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S A N TA F E L I T E R A R Y

S A N T A F E L I T E R A R Y R E V I E W 2 014

S A N TA F E L I T E R A R Y

2014


Front Cover Art: Julia Leaf Collage Photograph by Claire Moore Back Cover Art: Tres Photograph by Lydia Gonzales Book Design: David Faulkner Logo Design: Jane Dill Design Printing: Vision Media Rio Rancho, New Mexico Copyright Š 2014 by Santa Fe Community College


Santa Fe Literary Review 2014 Faculty Advisor: Miriam Sagan Fiction Editor: Meg Tuite Poetry Editor: Sudasi Clement Editors-at-Large: Candice Floran, Amanda Fresquez, Neda Vesselinova and Jared Valdez Non-fiction and Memoir Editor: Libby Hall Reviews Editor: Susan Aylward Art Editor: Doug Bootes The Santa Fe Literary Review is published by the School of Liberal Arts of Santa Fe Community College. With special thanks to Bernadette Jacobs, Dean of Liberal Arts and Core Studies, and Julia Deisler, Chair of English, Speech and Reading. Santa Fe Literary Review invites submissions of poetry, fiction and non-fiction of a general literary interest, as well as visual arts. Unless accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope, submissions will not be returned. Submissions are accepted on a year-round basis, to be read in the fall. Please address all correspondence to: Miriam Sagan Santa Fe Literary Review 6401 Richards Avenue Santa Fe, New Mexico 87508

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Contents Oklahoma Will Greenway The Other Grandfather Catherine Ferguson Thomas Hooker Hotel, Room 308B Maureen Tolman Flannery For Matthew, Who Will Not Remember Me Francine Marie Tolf Oregon Lydia Gonzales Falling Leaves Libby Hall My Life as Wonder Woman Miranda Merklein Dear ex-wife (with whom I still share

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a last name) Emma Sindelar

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A Body Isabel Winson-Sagan Horse Michael G. Smith Merapi Cynthia Dewi Oka Mexico Ryan Werner Triplets Wayne Lee Walking With My Heart After a Disappointment Tim Suermondt Portrait: 1932 Dorothy Brooks Dearheart Lillo Way Middle Children Make Excellent Magicians Arienne Tenorio Santa Fe Literary Review 2014

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Hands Lydia Gonzales Relax Ellen Bass Interview with Ellen Bass Sudasi Clement and Meg Tuite Weathered Some Storms Gerard J. Martinez y Valencia Laws of Gravitation Natalia Andrievskikh Lightning Strike Frank Pearce My Tattooed Palestinian Elvina Rose Meyer Soul Carrier Lorraine E. Leslie Stolen Song Michael Holland Jonah Daniel Bohnhorst Spanish Lesson Deborah Casillas After the Fall Charlie Kalogeros-Chattan La Casita Max Underwood Burgos to Castrojeríz – The Monastery of St. Anton Natalie Campbell Walden Demonios y Canciones Mi Padre Pamela Ramos Langley Triangle for Angie Jack Cooper Beer and Bach Andrei Guruianu Altibajos Max Underwood Novela Norteña – Red or Green Episode Sharon Guerrero

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Skunked

Susan Johnson

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How to Bury a Father

Jeanne Simonoff

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For My Niece Lauren at Two Weeks Old

Teisha Twomey

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Beyond the Pier

Gerard J. Martinez y Valencia

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Just Walk Away

Tom Hazuka

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Driveway

Claire Sandrin

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To That First and Only One Dollar Bill I Slipped Under a Stripper’s G-String Timothy Vigil

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Cup of Coffee

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Judy Mosher

Heart of Boddhisatva

Lorraine Leslie

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Featured Poet: Ann Filemyr A Child Falls in Love with a Ferris Wheel

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A Man Falls in Love with a Fork

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The Old Painter Loves His Grandfather

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An Old Woman Falls in Love with a Hummingbird

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The Widow in Muir Woods

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Mimes

Brian Fishbine

Saint Joan

Jen Michalski

Missing You Ritual

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Susan Paradise

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Beryl Markowitz

Statistical Echo: Global Economy Conference

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Jannett Highfill

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Young Love with Figs and Dangling Participles Frank H. Coons Joshie Cheers with His Team Charles Harper Webb Don’t Bite Your Nails Candice Floran The Dream Eaters Cynthia West Poem for a Morning Darryl Williams Soul Soirée Julie Yowell She Tells You Nicelle Davis Just Looking At It Kenneth P. Gurney Unexpected Loss Amanda Fresquez Nick’s Lunch Beryl Markowitz Family Tree Anne Hosansky On My Way Away Francine Witte Hero Socks Robyn Hunt Morning After the Sweep Donald Levering My Version Grey Held Portal Brian Fishbine Chicago Janice Bruce Hightower For Every Accidental Incursion Susana H. Case Kite Day Fred Yannantuono The Hiding Dennis Trudell Dropping Teeth Janée J. Baugher The Reader Kat French 6

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the boundless wheat fields Dan Sicoli Celeriac Stephen Massimilla Reiterative Gary Hardaway Stop Light Chatter Jennifer Anderson Dancing with Lennie Teresa Hommel Confined Prospector Jared Valdez Maelstrom #2, Detail Doug Bootes Empire Doug Bootes Wild Horse Sophia Bootes The welcome of weeds Gill Hoffs At a Western Store in Central Oregon Peter Ludwin Regarding the Facts of Life John Grey Heart Phillis Ideal You’re On Your Own, Kid Deborah Schreifels Right Now is a Season Susan Aylward And She Told Me It Was OK Nina Listro My Mother’s Hands Joan Burt Autumn Elegy Betsy Fogelman Tighe Early Elegy for My Mother Devon Miller-Duggan The Fall Claire Moore 2 Haiku Margaret Peters The Spell Barbara Hill

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Draw a Box Lauren Camp A Modern Fairy Tale Neda Vesselinova Refugees Brian Cronwall Sea Dream Joseph Hutchison Fish Claire Moore At Sea Shari Hack Jones Three Foggy Mornings and One Rainy Day Eric Roe Los Alamos Project Ro Calhoun Cartographer María Cristina López Ambushed Elizabeth O’Brien He Looked Good in Pictures Meneese Wall Diacetylmorphine Janelle Bohannon Thankso, Klaxo Cass McMain In Search of Shame Charles Rammelkamp Cracks Isabel Winson-Sagan Afterlife 2.0 Laurel DiGangi Signs and Portents Jacqueline Doyle AM Memories Terrence Brunner If Bacchus Had Left the Party Early Katherine DiBella Seluja Happy Hour Gary Hardaway Thoreau’s Cabin Lauren Lamont 8

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Lost Shoes Nayla Degreff Dogs and Snow Goose Kat French The True Story of Yin Ron Riekki Friday Night Julie Brooks Barbour Levitation Ring Bud Smith Esthetician to the Elite Helen Wickes Thoughts as to Mr. Glass’s Short Stature Kyle Hemmings The Passport Behzad Dayeny Speech Therapy J. Tarwood My Mother’s Third Call on a Day of Sleet and December Falling Lyn Lifshin Leaving Seamus Heaney’s Funeral George Korolog The Eye Ace Boggess At the Deep End Len Kuntz A Horrible Thing John Van Wagner Book Stack Ro Calhoun Reviews Susan Aylward Bios

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Oklahoma by William Greenway When it came on the radio tonight I began to weep, not for the musical, or the flat, red-dirt state I was driven through by those bastards who knew they weren’t going to hire me even before they flew me there, and who, when I asked them what happened to the trees, said, tornadoes ripped them all out, but for the grandfather I never knew, the Welsh preacher, north Georgia circuit-rider, who, instead of shunning his only son’s fifteen-year-old bride, met them at the station, how he drove them, singing , “Oh, what a beautiful morning” the whole way home.

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The Other Grandfather by Catherine Ferguson He stole a pie and ate it with his fingers behind a brick building. The dock and the mice made him want ice cold water. He was drawn to urban transportation, rails, wheels, engines. Anything but memory. He did not like to sit politely at the supper table. He disliked thinking about the wife he had left behind. The son and daughter. If he thought of her he spat. If he saw a full waistband he wanted to vomit. He did not want homemade. There was so much to darken. There was a wall, a field, a combine, and a loader. His cheekbones jutted into the smokestacks, ink wells, factories. The little boy wrote to him. Send me strawbarys. Send me your wing, your walet, send me a sign, a stamp, the histry of the First World War. My boy can’t spell. He had nothing to give but oblivion. Don’t ask me for anything he wanted to answer. Don’t remind me of the woman who wore a white apron and pulled her hair up in a bun, whose smile was once full. Don’t remind me of a pillow for her head and one for mine, or the second birth, a girl with high cheekbones. At night in some hotel he sketched water systems.

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He diagramed four drinking wells, bomb shelters, artillery conveyances. He sketched stairs, a coal furnace. He did not want to know the lady who lived down the end of the hallway and sometimes smiled at him. He would not write back to the boy who stood in the rain on Pennsylvania Avenue and let it fill up his mouth. He would not buy that card with a rabbit sitting in soft grass for the little daughter he would never see. He would keep the sound of the railroad in his ears, the spinning coils of turbines and spark plugs in his eyes, he would die before they found him and made him take off his hat.

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Thomas Hooker Hotel, Room 308b by Maureen Tolman Flannery Lionel Williams is a kind of savant yet nobody wants the world he’s been writing alone in his room in a transient hotel that smells of stale beer and other men’s sex. For several years now he has tried to transcribe the epic that pesters the back of his mind. His headaches get worse when he stays in the room with its stacks of damp manuscripts piled on the floor, the locked door itself barricaded with papers all filled to the margins with visceral story that won’t let him finish and won’t let him rest. Only the transom is open for air where Lionel scrawls what he barely can read. Last night he decided to paper the room, to paste tragic stanzas across all the walls. He began in one corner to work his way up. Soon he’ll be pasting his tome on the ceiling if his pain-pulsing temples will let him proceed festooning his room with the scribbled designs till his final breath rattles from the heart of a poem.

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For Matthew, Who Will Not Remember My Name by Francine Marie Tolf This is for brown-eyed Matthew who asks excellent questions. I know, because I sat across from him on a number six bus as it inched down Hennepin Avenue one slippery winter morning in Minneapolis. Does that man who’s sleeping in the back have a bed, Mom? Why aren’t we wearing seatbelts? What is a henpen? I liked the affectionate but absentminded way he’d lean over to plant a wet kiss on his baby sister, gurgling in his mother’s lap, before resuming his conversation. Why do dollar bills smell funny? When’s the next stop? Who made the snow, Mom? Mom. Who made the snow? I liked his mother, who jounced the baby and smiled, but looked exhausted, and how Matthew didn’t fret at her silence, but turned around in his seat and knelt with his face pressed against the window, staring at thick, lacy flakes transforming the neighborhood into a Christmas globe. Who made you, snow, he asked again quietly. Then, after listening to what might have been an answer, Matthew began to hum.

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Oregon Photograph by Lydia Gonzales

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Falling Leaves by Libby Hall I wonder why parts of the brain die while other parts stubbornly cling to life. I’m thinking of falling leaves. Colors change green to brown, green to yellow, yellow to gold, gold to brown, a tapestry of change. I see my mother, still beautiful at 84, sitting at the table with well manicured nails a brilliant red, her cheeks sunken in as she’s forgotten to put in her dentures again. Her breakfast is a single piece of toast, lightly buttered, and a container of yogurt untouched. All of her attention is focused on the paper napkin she tears into smaller and smaller pieces until a pile of napkin confetti sits in front of her. Perseveration, they call it. Her doctor says it’s the brain forcing itself to remain active and involved - any activity will do. It’s one of the hallmarks of advanced dementia. She looks bewildered by the pile of napkin bits in front of her plate as if she’s wondering how it got there and what she’s supposed to do with it. As I gather up the bits she smiles, relieved she isn’t required to decide the fate of the bits. Her breakfast remains untouched as do most meals. She has no interest in food. The sun is warm today and a gentle breeze is taking the early leaves and scattering little pieces of something that was once whole. In a few weeks the trees will be bereft of foliage. The leaves gone but the trees remain. My mother is like those trees. “Honey, how do you tell the difference between night and day?” A factual answer is useless. If she could remember that one is light and the other dark, she wouldn’t be asking. So it goes with the falling leaves, they bud, they bloom, they live, they fade, they die. In a rare moment of clarity she asks, “If I eat something, will I get better?” “No, you will get stronger, not better.” “I thought so.” She smiles.

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She stops eating and two weeks later she stops breathing. The leaves are gone. The trees are barren. My mother’s breath is gone but her beautifully manicured nails remain, her hands gracefully folded on her fragile, unmoving chest. There is so much beauty in a barren landscape. I reach for my camera to photograph her still hands, her brain no longer frantically attempting to stay engaged. Her cycle of life ends the day my youngest grandson celebrates his first year of life. A new bud appears on the barren branch.

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My Life as Wonder Woman by Miranda Merklein Circle time at Hendersonville Elementary in Asheville – “Ms. Kathy,” I said with my arm raised. “Did you say we could be anyone when we grow up?” “Anything or anyone,” she clarified. “Thanks for raising your arm this time.” I discussed the matter with my dad in the Studebaker on the way home. “I've decided that I'm going to be Wonder Woman,” I declared. “I've given it a lot of thought.” “That's nice, honey,” my father concurred. “And I'm sorry that Ms. Kathy couldn't accept the Play-Doh patty with pressed pennies, but teachers are forbidden from taking money.” “Energy disk,” I corrected. The first step was putting together Lynda Carter's impossibly-smallwaisted outfit, which had many necessary accents: There were no red and gold go-go boots in my size, but I did already own red rubber rainboots. Blue-on-blue piped jogging shorts were spangled with gold goodfor-you star stickers, which were also used to form the heart-shaped breastplate atop my red undershirt. I pasted the empty rectangle sticker sheets around my wrists to form indestructible deflector bracelets. My leftover Darth Vader Halloween cape was used during super ops but was not necessary during regular justice hours. The braided harvest yellow rope from my livingroom curtains made a fine Lasso of Truth, and the rhinestone tiara was recycled from the princess costume my grandmother Virginia sent all the way from Dallas when she strongly suggested I pick a character other than Darth Vader for my first year of school. Pinking shears, my idea. “You will no longer make us afraid,” I advised Jeremy Reiney, furyeyed, as he tried to block access to the octagon gym. “I am woman. I am

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Amazon!” “Move it, weirdo,” he retorted, pushing the small of my back into the welded bars. As he ran ecstatically toward Eric Shaw with a newly caught salamander in hand, he stumbled in the playsand dunes after momentarily looking back and noticing the clever cinch around his ankle. Lucky, I thought, or maybe it was because I was on the side of justice that he stepped in the exact right spot of the lasso hook-trap. “She got me!” he wailed, and I grinned when he fell open-mouthed flat upon his fist of salamander. “You killed the salamander!” accused Eric. Was it true, was I the evil one? “No, it's your fault!” I fumed, stomping forth. “I have just as much a right to be here as you, and so do the rest of us. That salamander's still alive for now, but you shouldn't take it from the water, its home! Who do you think you are, the postal service?” “Let's getter,” Jeremy shouted, pulling himself from the bleached playsand. I quickly finished the interior line of arm bars, squeezed out through a triangle shape in the octagon, and the three of us ran along the paved path toward Ms. Kathy's homeroom trailer, pausing only to jump a row of tires, with the rest of the recess crowd forming a confused but united posse, shouting, “Spank 'em! Spank 'em three!” “Wait, wait. WAIT!” Ms. Kathy demanded as we trampled the landing like frantic pigeons. “You are all talking to me at once. I can't hear a thing you're saying. Jeremy and Eric, leave the girls alone. Miranda, this Wonder Woman thing has gone too far. The rest of you, line up!” “But I am Wonder Woman,” I protested. “I know you think you are, but there's a difference between pretending and reality,” she scolded. “You need to be your own person, that one-in-a-million—” “That's your opinion,” I interrupted, “but I know who I am.” The following year we moved to Fort Worth, TX, Land of Little Christmas.

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Dear ex-wife (with whom I still share a last name) by Emma Sindelar I am mailing you the five door and window bolts you left here that I no longer need. I am going to let the bad guys in because I keep things ajar at night. I would send you everything else you left here, but then my house would be almost empty and that would reflect too accurately my undefined personality. Once I stopped watching your television I stopped fearing break-ins and public shootings and started fearing epiphanies and self-realizations instead. I’ve realized how dirty you must see me now. Neither of us thought that one swipe could take out 12 years of no drama and no fighting. Oh yeah, I threw the television in the box with the bolts as well, but one of the antennae broke. I hope you like the big box of domestic paranoia. Irrational paranoia. People like you and I are more afraid of a plane crashing into the roof of our apartment complex than getting into a car accident tomorrow. I am keeping the front door wide open these nights. I think I’m trying to invite someone in. I can only stand sleeping alone if I figure soon enough, someone will join me in bed. The coffee you made me every morning as a congratulatory gift for waking up was too sweet. You put three teaspoons of sugar. I like one. Or just a half. Bitter coffee to start my day is a prologue for how I’m always afraid it’ll be. Bitter. Bitter feelings. Bitter people. Bitter feelings about bitter people. But I don’t think it’s really about the coffee, is it? The coffee is a metaphor for our marriage. I never liked your coffee. Why didn’t I tell you the first time you fixed it for me? “I like a few less sugars, dear.” Or why didn’t I tell you the next time, or the one after that, or any one day of those long 12 years?

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What if I’d said, “I’m looking for chest hair and stubble,” the day we met? We could have turned away from each other years ago. I wouldn’t have missed you. Sincerely, Your ex-husband (please change your last name. This is as hard as I can hint.)

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A Body Photograph by Isabel Winson-Sagan

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Horse for M.E. by Michael G. Smith In my dream, we ride a sorrel western spirit horse. My arms tight round your waist, you work the reins. Clomp, clomp, clomp. You ask your teenage daughter if girls ask boys out on dates. Surely we have come that far, you say. No, is her tight-lipped response. And yet, time is magnetic – geologist, you wield lodestone and hew your lips onto mine; mine follow the course you set. Riding your tongue over mine, mine persuasively follows the tip of yours. At this rate we will never finish one game shooting h-o-r-s-e. You work the reins. I hold you close round your waist. Clomp, clomp, clomp. Our throats go hoarse.

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Merapi by Cynthia Dewi Oka In the clay yard of childhood, my aunt bloodied and soot-kissed, sheds her clothes upon the mossy lip of a well. An offering rinsed in dawn’s coral light, the steam rising off a fresh kill. Her hands clutch the tar-bound rope, each vein a thick blue knot hoisting bucket after bucket of dutiful libation. With each drop night’s omen returned to the lightless eye of water. Though afraid I do not resist her or the cry of the muezzin like a cold blade against my skin. I want to touch them all – burnt patches, pale worms pleating breasts and belly, the shadowy rooms of slaughter. How each gesture glistens in memory like a scar. Years later they will find her dead behind a door no one thinks to open until the stench of rotting flesh seeps through the brick walls. I will not weep or fly home, burying only that morning when small and naked I stand with her marveling in the cool breeze, like goddesses, exposed beyond the avarice of beauty

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as the volcano hemorrhages its viscera above us. Tracing wrack lines where the sun has dried moments before we brush them away – cicada wing on an elbow, salam leaf on a thigh – evidence of unrequited thirsts. Accidental drownings. The body’s risk. Believing I am stronger than the silence which swarms like beetles around my heart. Clamber. Break apart. Spill I do not hear the eruption when it happens. Boiling lakes of mud and falling timber. Bones catching fire. The refugees we suddenly become. Even now I tell myself I’ve escaped the magma’s gambit; the lucky one looking for God in the ashes.

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Mexico by Ryan Werner Ian says that Mexico is the only place he can sleep. Whenever he gets back from the places he goes that aren’t Mexico, he’s up until he’s his own apparition, all dry bones and sunken cheeks, to prove it. He tells me today he thinks he has a Mexican wife and a Mexican kid and he wants to bring them to the States when he can get enough money, when he can find out if it’s the truth. He won’t stop talking about it once it comes up. I can only reply with halved platitudes, as if to tell him that I don’t know what to do when life gives you lemons, I don’t know what happens when something doesn’t kill you. Ian wandered off knowing literally nothing about himself and made it to Mexico before his parents could even hire a private detective, call every airport in a two hundred mile circle, mostly show that people who watch too much television shouldn’t be responsible for anything. We call it a vacation now, but it was a fugue state, an honest-togoodness bout of soap opera-style temporary amnesia. When it was over, I got the collect call from a phone number long enough to be latitude and longitude. Ian didn’t remember anything about how he got there, blacked out everything he did and all the stress that made it happen. Sometimes I think about Mexico so much that it’s almost more than just some other place. Sometimes Ian gets so tired that he shakes like he’s going in and out of focus. I do what Ian does for less money, making commissioned art for entitled rich people. I mostly make copies of famous paintings and sign whoever’s name to the bottom so I hate myself less. I sign Patty Hearst on a Degas, The Rock on a Klimt. Ian draws for the most horrifically rich, the sort of people who are essentially paying to have their neuroses shined up and brought back to them. Every time he gets a new job, he tells me what he’d do with the amount of money the person who commissioned him is worth. The guy who wants a watercolor of his mother in a dick-shaped coffin is worth

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six million dollars and Ian thinks that if he had it all he could buy everything he wants, thinks he could replace want with those things instead of wanting more things. “You have to want something all the time,” I tell him. “It’s just human.” Ian turns his desk lamp off, lays himself down on the couch and tries to catch a break or his breath or desire but can only stare at this wall or that one. I try to set up Ian with an online dating profile but he’s not cooperating. He’s ignoring me, keeping his head down and drawing a collage of Disney Princesses with beards for an heir to an applesauce empire. “How would you describe your body?” I ask. “It’s there,” he says, continues running preference through the hair of history. Ian wants me to draw him a layout of a house he saw first in a dream and second taking a walk yesterday. I start explaining that our brains don’t make stuff up, that the things we see in dreams are things we’ve seen before and either pushed away or buried, so it has to be the other way around, but he cuts me off, says he must have seen it in Mexico. It would be easier for him to draw it his own damn self, pull it from his brain and make it so, but he swears that I’ll draw it better, that he can’t do it himself. “It’s my dream home,” he says. I get out my sketchpad, start sharpening pencils loudly. “There are websites that do this, you know.” “What?” he says. “Dream?” I trip over a box full of Spanish vocabulary cards addressed to me. The next day, DVDs for kids to learn Spanish, my name on the front of the package. “I can pretend they’re actually yours,” he tells me. “Like you’re giving up and I’m just happening across them.” After a week or so, a Maxim with MÚSICA - SEXO - DOWNLOADS across the top arrives. I hold up the magazine and point to a crudely translated advertisement in the back. “Are you pretending that I’m looking for the perfect pussy?” I ask him. He takes the magazine from me and opens it up to an article about a Latina pop singer. “I’m pretending you’re trying to chase what you assume is a better life so incidentally close to your own,” he says, his life so

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saturated with the simple mechanics of daily existence that he can only hope to lapse into another one. Ian’s mother sends me half a dozen emails about Ian’s temperament and Ian’s aura and Ian’s habits. I tell her that Ian’s adjusting to a world he’s not sure if he’s a part of. I forward him the entire conversation and he doesn’t respond until the morning when he just writes back Esta mañana? Our apartment is on the fifth floor of a building that has five and a half floors. I hear someone up on the abandoned half floor above me and when I go up to check, it’s Ian, breaking glass candy bowls and picture frames, junk he bought at a thrift store. “I can’t make hours out of minutes,” he says, spits through the hole in the ceiling. He has me hold a dozen Monopoly boards folded in half on top of each other out in front of me like we’re doing karate. He breaks through them and his fist stops right before it hits my chest and keeps going. There’s a notebook filled cover-to-cover with descriptions of the layout for this house Ian wants me to draw. It gets down to the angles of the legs on tables, the number of books on a shelf. It’s staggering, but once I start drawing, I can’t stop. The images form as soon as I read what they should look like. I check the clock and end up not checking it again for another seven hours and into the night. I stop by Ian’s room, door open, light on. I want to tell him about the drawing, but he’s just sitting there, doing nothing, looking tired. I say, “Could you at least nap if you were in New Mexico?” “It must be great to have your life all in one place,” he says, his eyes so wide they look in bloom. It takes me three days, but I finish drawing Ian’s house. When I go to give it to him, he’s gone. I do some more work, fake a “Starry Night” for the tenth time this year. I get the bottom layer down and he isn’t back, start swirling shit around and still nothing. Days pass and I don’t see him, see no sign that he’s even been to the apartment. I check the half floor upstairs, too, and it’s all the same stuff. I take the drawing of his house and lay it all on his bed and I’m the first one to touch it in weeks. After a few more days, I start setting my alarm for odd hours of the

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night to see if I can find him sneaking in, to see if I can catch him playing this game, to convince myself that he knows where he’s at and where he came from. Ian’s mother calls the same detectives and gets the same results. I get emails from her daily now and have nothing to write her back about, so I just forward her the inspirational chain letters my mother sends to me. She finds my generosity incredible. I’ve hung up the drawings of Ian’s dream house in our living room and I don’t know whether or not I should wait, and if I should wait, what I should be waiting for. I’ve picked up some of Ian’s business since he’s been gone, over two months now. Last week I drew a collage of surprised cat faces spelling out FOREVER 21 for the widow at the cheese shop. Now I’m working on a frame-by-frame interpretation of a Boy Meets World Christmas episode. The art doesn’t get to me like it got to Ian, but I can understand the absurdity of it, the things people do when they can. I keep expecting a postcard from Mexico with nothing written on it except my name and address to show up in the mail, but I understand the absurdity of that, too, the things people do when they can’t.

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Triplets by Wayne Lee I ask if they’re twins they answer in unison No sir we’re triplets I say your mama must have raised you right they say No sir she didn’t The shelter’s full tonight snow huffing from the west too cold to sleep in a car if they had a car They look alike with long thin hair and wispy beards weathered skin the slack-jawed stare of men who have seen too much but never had enough They’ve hoboed cities clear across the south slept in missions filled with orphans just like them but all they have is one another mother dead at childbirth younger brother still inside Ben’s a schizophrenic Ken says after supper voices tell him secrets help decode the symbols hidden all around It’s up to me to keep him straight not wander off the edge he says and yes they grin through matching gap teeth We’ll be back tomorrow night thank you kindly sir our little brother would like you if he were here

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Walking with My Heart After a Disappointment by Tim Suermondt “It could be worse,” I say to it and it’s well aware of what I mean. “Feel the crisp air and look at the sunlight oozing over the gas station sign— Jesus, it doesn’t get better than this.” My heart is coming around to my thinking, this heightened optimism that may doom us— but what a wonderful doom. I’m standing fast like Martin Luther minus the theological falderal, and my heart affirms, stirring with its red sash held oh so high.

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Portrait: 1932 by Dorothy Brooks She did not use her new-earned R.N. or wear her white, starched cap She did not move to Cleveland to assist that famous surgeon She no longer stretched her fine-honed mind that rose from scrap-scrabble striving She no longer burned whole nights studying to be best, the valedictorian of her class She did not know another beau once she met her first She did not unbutton her long winter coat did not shed its shelter of shame even in spring She did not change their weekly menu it was fried potatoes every night She did not brush sweat drops from her brow above the cast-iron frying pan She did not stop staring out the window from the same chair every single day She did not, for decades , leave the couch or the blaring “Days of Our Lives� She did not chew her way out like a flint-eyed, home-bound muskrat Once that first baby was on the way snap! went the rusted trap

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Dearheart by Lillo Way Dearheart, I’m leaving you the way the audience files out when the heart-stopping play is over, tripping over umbrellas, stepping on toes, snagging a silk scarf along a bristling scarlet seat. I’m leaving you the way the actors slide out from under their smelly makeup, put on clothes that make them look as dark and tired as you and I and disappear down the ice-torn steps into the frigid subway. Sweetheart, The way I’m leaving you is as if I’ve grabbed onto the nubby sock of the stage manager, shimmied up his pant leg and slipped into the back pocket of his blue jeans, just before he is the last one out. See the way he throws the huge toggle-switch, darkening the entire theater in one echogenic thunk that ricochets inside his ribcage – that’s the way I’m leaving you. Heart-of-my-heart, Light as a paper valentine in the black of his pocket, I pass through the velvet wings and take the fire exit down the empty corrugated loading ramp

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into the alley of rats behind the old show palace. I’ve left you the way the bouquets and telegrams and clippings of reviews (mixed, good parts underlined) are crisping and yellowing in the mirrors of the empty dressing rooms.

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Middle Children Make Excellent Magicians by Arienne Tenorio I realized how transparent I was for the first time when my parents left me at the mall. I imagined all my siblings packing in to the car, talking to each other and the air, like it was me, because they really couldn’t tell the difference. One day I faded enough to see through my hand on to the dirty plastic bench I sat on waiting for a bus that didn’t even stop, didn’t see me. By the time I reached high school, I haunted the hallways. Passing through people who never noticed me coming. A shadow that caused shivers when approached. Then I met a boy. One more alive and real than I had ever imagined. I watched how being seen could be exciting, but scary at the same time. Becoming tangible could hurt. Solidified bodies bruised and broke easily. It wasn’t looking so good. I started disappearing again, fading faster than I had before, avoiding mirrors that no longer reflected me. I feathered away, until one day I settled back into that non-space of complete invisibility again. I was a middle child, after all, and it came so naturally.

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Hands Photograph by Lydia Gonzales

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Relax by Ellen Bass Bad things are going to happen. Your tomatoes will grow a fungus and your cat will get run over. Someone will leave the bag with the ice cream melting in the car and throw your blue cashmere sweater in the dryer. Your husband will sleep with a girl your daughter's age, her breasts spilling out of her blouse. Or your wife will remember she's a lesbian and leave you for the woman next door. The other cat— the one you never really liked—will contract a disease that requires you to pry open its feverish mouth every four hours. Your parents will die. No matter how many vitamins you take, how much Pilates, you'll lose your keys, your hair, and your memory. If your daughter doesn't plug her heart into every live socket she passes, you'll come home to find your son has emptied the refrigerator, dragged it to the curb, and called the used-appliance store for a pickup—drug money. The Buddha tells a story of a woman chased by a tiger. When she comes to a cliff, she sees a sturdy vine and climbs halfway down. But there's also a tiger below. And two mice—one white, one black—scurry out and begin to gnaw at the vine. At this point she notices a wild strawberry growing from a crevice. She looks up, down, at the mice. Then she eats the strawberry. So here's the view, the breeze, the pulse

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in your throat. Your wallet will be stolen, you'll get fat, slip on the bathroom tiles in a foreign hotel and crack your hip. You'll be lonely. Oh, taste how sweet and tart the red juice is, how the tiny seeds crunch between your teeth.

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Interview with Ellen Bass by Sudasi Clement and Meg Tuite Ellen Bass’s seventh collection of poetry, Like a Beggar, was recently published by Copper Canyon Press. Her previous books include The Human Line (Copper Canyon Press), named a Notable Book by the San Francisco Chronicle and Mules of Love (BOA Editions) which won the Lambda Literary Award. She co-edited (with Florence Howe) the groundbreaking No More Masks! An Anthology of Poems by Women (Doubleday). Her poems have appeared in hundreds of journals and anthologies, including The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The American Poetry Review, The New Republic, The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, and The Sun. She was awarded the Elliston Book Award for Poetry from the University of Cincinnati, Nimrod/Hardman’s Pablo Neruda Prize, The Missouri Review’s Larry Levis Award, the Greensboro Poetry Prize, the New Letters Poetry Prize, the Chautauqua Poetry Prize, a Pushcart Prize, and a Fellowship from the California Arts Council. Her non-fiction books include Free Your Mind: The Book for Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Youth (HarperCollins), I Never Told Anyone: Writings by Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse (HarperCollins), and The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse (HarperCollins), which has sold over a million copies and has been translated into ten languages. She currently is teaching in the low residency MFA program at Pacific University and has taught poetry and creative writing in Santa Cruz, CA and at other beautiful locations nationally and internationally. SC: You are known for the intimacy and highly personal quality of your work. Was it a conscious decision to share your own life so candidly in your poetry? EB: I began writing poetry in the 60’s. That was a time when the

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second wave of feminism was surging. We were eager to hear women’s voices. We needed to hear the truth of women’s experience. There was an urgency about this. My first mentor was Florence Howe, who was my teacher at Goucher College and became my mentor. Eventually we coedited the first major volume of poetry by women, No More Masks! The title was taken from the great poet, Muriel Rukeyser: "No more masks! No more mythologies! And the fragments will join in us with their own music." For that anthology, I read virtually every poem written by an American woman in the twentieth century. That was actually possible then! And we were so hungry to hear about women’s experience. Rukeyser also wrote: “What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.” It’s hard to describe how much had never—or very rarely—been written about. Or if it was written, we had little access to it. At the same time I was studying with Anne Sexton at Boston University. So I was steeped in the idea of writing personally. It seemed like the most natural thing in the world, as well as the most necessary. The idea that the personal is political was not just a slogan to us. We were trying to live by it. I also had a need to understand my own experience. To understand my experience as part of the human experience, to know that my pain and my joy are part of being human. I continue to use the events of my own life. They are my material, what is available to me. I use them not because of their uniqueness, but because they connect me to others. The novelist, Doris Lessing wrote: "But the most curious thing is that the very passages that once caused me the most anxiety, the moments when I thought, no, I cannot put this on paper--are now the passages I'm proud of. That comfort me most out of all I've written. Because through letters and readers I discovered these were the moments when I spoke for other people. So paradoxical. Because at the time they seemed so hopelessly private…" A poem may start out being about the writer, but if it is successful, it ends up being about the reader. Through poetry we are reminded that our experience is not ours alone. The Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron advises that in difficult times, even if we can't manage to do anything else, it's helpful if we can just remember to say to ourselves, "Other peo-

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ple feel this too." SC: When I read your most recent book, The Human Line, I found myself alternately wiping away tears and laughing out loud. Do you ever begin with the intention of writing a funny poem, like “Asking Directions in Paris”, or “Bone of My Bone and Flesh of My Flesh”, or do certain poems just unexpectedly lean that way? EB: I’m glad when a poem turns out to be funny, but I don’t intentionally set out to write a funny poem. Much of life is absurd to me and I find what people say and do—including myself—is often very funny. If I can let go of my judgment and defenses, really, it’s often ridiculous. And humor is inherent in even some of the hardest experiences. Often the humor and the pain are pressed close together. Humor is intimate to me. It shows how our minds work. So when I write something and someone finds it funny, there’s an honest connection there. You can’t argue your way into making someone think something’s amusing. But if they do, for a moment, at least, we’re looking at the world from the same angle. We’re sharing the same spot on the planet. And I love that intimacy. SC: You’ve written several non-fiction books as well as two books of poetry. Are you still writing in multiple genres, or do you exclusively write poetry now? Was there a moment you knew you wanted to write poems? EB: I wrote poems from the time I was in college—more than 45 years ago. I always wanted to write poems. But my path took a significant tangent when I was teaching creative writing workshops and the women in my workshops began writing about their experiences being sexually abused as children. Although I wasn’t abused myself, the pain they suffered and their strength and resilience were so compelling to me that I couldn’t turn away. So for about a dozen years, I left my own poetry and worked with survivors of child sexual abuse. I co-edited I Never Told Anyone, co-wrote The Courage to Heal, counselled survivors and trained professionals. I’m not sure I’ll ever do more gratifying work. But

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eventually my own soul got too hungry, my need to write poetry grew so strong that I had to listen to it and so I returned to my first love. I don’t think I’ll ever write a non-fiction book again. I’m 66 and I think I need all my remaining years for poetry. SC: What turns on your poetry-brain? Put another way, where do your poems come from? EB: My poems come from everywhere. From the rose colored light at the end of a winter day in my backyard that reminds me of the light in southern Italy, from the red maple leaves fallen on the deck outside my glass doors that seem to be a continuation of my red woolen rug. From something poignant and absurd my mother-in-law says to a memory of sleeping in the Madrid airport. For me, one of the joys of writing poetry is that poems can receive and hold such a disparate assortment of things I don’t want to overlook, don’t want to lose. Poems come from grappling with things I don’t understand or things that trouble me. They come from the inevitable losses and disappointments of life. They surely come from the experiences I think I can’t bear. Poetry helps to make them bearable. It makes them part of the human story. And many of my poems arise from reading poetry. Whenever I feel empty, that’s the surest place for me to look for inspiration. SC: Can you tell us a bit about your writing process? What is your preferred writing space? Do you keep a journal? Do you write every day? EB: Oh my. I don’t write every day. I don’t keep a daily journal. I don’t have a reliable practice. I used to do such things, but now I am much less organized. I just try to write as much as I can. And I accept that there will be times when I’m teaching and traveling and I don’t get to writing. But I love—and need—to write, so I don’t stay away too long. My process, if I have one, is that I fall off the horse all the time, but I get on again pretty quickly. SC: What is on your personal reading list right now? EB: Right now I’m reading the new translation of War and Peace. I 42

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read it first when I was in my early twenties on a canoeing trip on the Moose River in Maine. I read it by flashlight at night or when we stopped for breaks on little beaches. It was an idyllic time and the book was long enough to last the whole trip. Right now I’m in Mallorca with my dear friend and mentor, Florence Howe (founder of The Feminist Press), and I’m reading it on the beach. A little slice of heaven. SC: There is an ongoing conversation in literary circles about poetry’s purpose, and whether or not poetry is important. How and why do you believe in poetry? EB: Well, yes, many people live very well without poetry. But some of us can’t. Poetry is what gets me through the night. It’s what I turn to when I think I can’t go on. Reading it and writing it both. It’s my way to accept what I don’t want to accept, my way to be curious when I want to shut the door, my way to say yes when I want to say no. Rilke wrote, Oh, tell us, poet, what do you do? --I praise. But those dark, deadly, devastating ways, how do you bear them, suffer them? --I praise. This is the gift of poetry. Some people have other ways of paying attention, of waking up. I don’t know why my path is poetry, but do we ever really understand what makes us fall in love? SC: Your poetry workshops are well-attended and much-loved. Do you think anyone can learn to write poetry? EB: Everyone can learn to write better than they could before they studied and worked at it. I know very few poets—no matter how successful--who are satisfied with their achievement. Certainly not me! My friend Joe Millar says we’re always writing in the shadow of the greats. So most of us are never satisfied. We’re always striving, trying to get a little better, learn a little more. So when you say “learn to write poetry” it’s what most poets are doing. And of course it’s relative. But every-

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one can learn more than they knew before and (for most of us) less than we’d like to learn! For myself, I feel like it’s an honor to put my pebble on the altar of poetry. Some poets may be offering up a boulder, but I try not to compare. I remind myself it’s a privilege just to be part of the lineage and everyone who loves poetry and works at it is part of that lineage. MT: It was a gift to spend a week working with you at Esalen in Big Sur, CA. It’s been a while since I’ve returned and it is truant, haunting and a beacon of silent canvas in my brain. I’ve been working to frighten the clock and write with your words of wisdom in siege. Sudasi and I will both be there for your workshop in Taos, 2015. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions. What would you say are the most important aspects to work on as a beginning poet? EB: Read poetry! Read slowly. Read aloud. Read and ask yourself, what is the poet doing here? How does she begin? What’s happening in the first line, in the second line? Just by examining poems that we love we can learn a tremendous amount. As for what aspect of the craft to practice first, I would say a beginning poet would be wise to focus on detail and description. If you do that, you’ll be training yourself to pay attention, to notice what you see and hear and smell, what things taste like and feel like, and then you’ll be trying to find language to describe that precisely. Generalizations and abstractions aren’t taboo. There are times for reflection or a big statement. But these usually must be earned through the quality of the description that has gone before—or will follow. We respond emotionally to sensory description in a way that we simply don’t respond to abstraction, so a poet who forgoes physical detail or is sloppy about getting it right is not likely to move the reader. As Ezra Pound said, “Go in fear of abstractions.” And as the now ubiquitous saying goes, “God is in the details.” MT: Can you tell us a bit about metaphor and similes and how they can enhance a poem? EB: Poetry is rooted in metaphor, in which we see the similarity, the 44

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oneness, in disparate things. Our society is endlessly classifying, dividing into categories. We've become very sophisticated in our ability to differentiate. But in poetry, we're being reminded of similarities. Poetry is, essentially, metaphor. In a poem things which are conventionally, superficially, different are revealed as being in some essential way, similar. We say, this is like that. And when it's true, when it's accurate, barriers collapse and we get a glimpse into the oneness of the world. But of course it's necessary for the metaphor to be fresh enough, vital enough, to actually do its work. The best metaphors are there not just for decoration, but because a metaphor is the only way we can really say what we are trying to say. Often, it isn't possible to say how we feel or what we experience directly and communicate beyond the most superficial level. Much of what we are trying to talk about in poetry, is mysterious. And we're always searching for ways to express that not only to our sophisticated minds, but also to our hearts, to our spirits, which hear on a different vibration, a different wave-length, than our more rational brains. Metaphor is a way to use words to get underneath words. To use our minds to get into our deeper, more primitive mind. MT: There was talk in the workshop about the physical, emotional and intellectual in a poem and how to find a balance between these three so they make a poem whole. Can you share a bit about this? EB: I’m going to refer you here to Stephen Dobyns who writes about this in his wonderful book, Best Words, Best Order. Required reading for serious students of poetry! MT: What is it like for you to write that first draft? What would you tell a new poet who feels blocked by the process? EB: Be brave! Marvin Bell says, “Write with abandon,” and this is great advice. You must be willing to write anything, to sound foolish, sentimental, stupid, mean, whiny, desperate—whatever it is that you are afraid to sound. Tell the truth or write from your imagination—but be brave. It’s hard to write if you aren’t willing to override all the censors in

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your head. My censors never go away. I’ve just learned to write while they’re talking. MT: You spoke of working with disparate elements in your work to find the center. And that one should allow the poem to veer off when it wants to. I LOVE that! Can you tell us a bit about that? EB: Something I’ve been noticing in my poems lately is that often they have a kind of window in them, a place where the poem opens up and there’s room for something new or different to come in. Sometimes it’s an idea I’ve been thinking about, sometimes it’s a remembered experience. It could be something I’ve read—recently or long ago. But it asks to enter the poem and I think it works like a window in that it allows the outside to come in. Czeslaw Milosz in “Ars Poetica” wrote: The purpose of poetry is to remind us how difficult it is to remain just one person, for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors, and invisible guests come in and out at will. That’s what I’m trying to do. To allow those guests to come in and out at will. There’s an example of this in “The Morning After” where, in the middle of the narrative, Aristotle’s idea of the soul enters. It’s a little window. We’re in a kitchen, in this interior, domestic scene. And then the window opens and in flies Aristotle on the breeze—all the way from Greece, from well over two thousand years ago—and he tells us something about the soul. You could almost say he comments on the lives of this couple. What is the effect of that? I’m not sure I can articulate it all, but it seems to me it does a number of things. For starters, it lets in some fresh air. It gives the speaker a way to say how profoundly she experienced what they shared “the night before”—something she couldn’t put in her own words without sounding overly earnest. And hopefully it works to connect the passion of this couple to all the couples who have gone before. It also gives the opportunity for return. If you never leave

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the scene, you can’t return to it. And perhaps that mirrors the subject of the poem too—the rhythm of coming together and opening out. MT: How important is a community of other poets to your work-inprogress? Do you have a few poets that you workshop with? EB: Other poets are extremely important to me. I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to my mentor and dear friend, Dorianne Laux. I’m also deeply grateful to Joe Millar. Every summer they spend some weeks at my house and we write together and share our work. I also share poems with other poets, especially with Frank Gaspar, Toi Derricotte, and Danusha Lameris. I feel fortunate to have such a rich community of poets. Thank you so much, Ellen, for your insight, brilliance and time. We so appreciate all that you shared with us in this interview! Ellen Bass will be leading a workshop in Taos, NM in the Spring of 2015. Check her website: www.ellenbass.com to find out more about it.

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Weathered Some Storms Photograph by Gerard Martinez y Valencia

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Laws of Gravitation by Natalia Andrievskikh At take-off, the stewardess recites emergency instructions in unbearably bad English. The passengers are scared dolls, thin threads stick out of their sleeves, stretching out of the plane and beyond the landing strips, back to the gaudy furniture and narrow kitchen tables on the second, fifth and ninth floors of red-bricked apartment blocks. With the plane gathering height, the threads stretch and become thinner like strings of melted mozzarella. Nobody knows why the young man in stylish glasses keeps asking for more pink napkins, cramps and twists them into weird shapes. The elderly lady in the seat next to him thinks he is nervous and pats him on the hand, her knotted fingers wedged apart with too many gold rings. The stewardess thinks he is an asshole because he drops the used napkins underneath his seat. When the mozzarella strings reach their breaking point he finally twists a napkin into a pretty flower shape to give to the blonde girl who sleeps in her seat across the aisle, an open long-lashed eye painted with watercolors in the center of her forehead.

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Lightning Strike by Frank Pearce, Major, USMC (Ret) Late one evening on December 6, 2011, I was reading the newspaper as my wife watched TV. As I finished reading and started to fold the paper, I experienced the most shocking surprise. Three Vietnamese standing in front of me — mother, small daughter and son — who I had become extremely close with when I was stationed in Viet Nam during the war, stood there with smiles I recognized from long before, smiles I knew back then and could never, never forget. Completely stunned, I opened my mouth and stared. My wife looked over at me, and I guess due to the expression on my face, said, “What’s the matter? What’s wrong?” In 1965, when I was a lieutenant in the Marine Corps, I was sent to Viet Nam as a military advisor to a Vietnamese army battalion, located along the DMZ ( Demilitarized Zone) separating North from South Viet Nam. I was staying in a small U.S compound in the town of Quang Tri. The compound was used by advisors when we were not out on combat patrols with our Vietnamese units. We had the freedom to go out into the town, walk around, visit the open markets and mingle with locals. We generally did not go out into town at night, as it was too dangerous. Occasionally, very late at night I had to meet a US Army intelligence officer at a Vietnamese woman’s house located several blocks away from our compound. These meetings were scheduled very late for as much secrecy as possible. The woman passed verbal information to us concerning North Vietnamese activity in, or near the DMZ, such as tunneling into South Viet Nam. I also passed information from what I had seen along the DMZ, as it was the primary area patrolled by the unit I supported. The woman’s house was very small, only two rooms. The front of the house was placed firmly on the ground, but the back side extended out over a very steep slope with a small stream below. The back of the house was supported by long, thin wooden poles sunk into the ground. These houses, which ran the entire length of the road I had to travel on, extended all the way to our compound.

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In the daytime, I often walked up this street to the open market. One day as I was walking down the street going back to the compound, I passed a house with a small front porch containing a ping-pong table. Ping-pong was, and I am sure still is, very popular in that part of the world, with most world champions being from countries like Viet Nam and Thailand. There was a Vietnamese lady sitting in the corner of the porch along with her daughter who looked to be about 12 or 13 years old. Standing at one end of the ping-pong table was a small boy who looked to be about 8 or 9 years old. Each had a very wide and brilliant smile on their face, with the little boy looking at me as I was passing— yelling, “Ping-pong, ping-pong,” as he waved a paddle at me. I could tell he wanted someone to play with him. I stopped and played pingpong with him for awhile. After a few games, he again with that brilliant smile, said—“Checkers, checkers,” as he moved over to a small table containing a checker board. I sat with him, and we played checkers as I pointed out some of his errors so he could become a better player. All the time we were playing, he maintained that smile that never went away, as did his mother and sister. Not every time I walked by this house was anyone outside, but if they were, it was the entire smiling family—mother, daughter, and son on the porch. This particular family did not look like most of the residents in the area. They each had clean white teeth, which clearly revealed they did not chew betel nut, which when chewed resulted in dark red saliva, and when seen running out of the corner of one’s mouth, appeared bloody—an ugly, filthy looking mess. After chewing for many years, one’s teeth would turn totally black resulting in ugly smiles, even if the intention of a smile was friendly. Thank goodness, obviously the mother of these children did not chew betel nut. I often wondered why I never saw a man at the house. I often wondered if he was in the military and deployed to a different area of the country, or if he had been killed in combat. Whatever it was, there was no man living with this family. When I had to walk to the house late at night where I met with the intelligence officer, I carefully noticed everything that looked normal, or suspicious to me as a precaution. At night this street itself was normally vacant of anyone out walking or riding bicycles. It was common,

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however, for adults to sit outside their front doors, on steps, quietly talking and smoking cigarettes. That was on one side of the street where the houses had no porches, as did most of the houses on the river-side which housed my little friend and family. On my last night in Quant Tri, before I was transferred to the 3rd Marine Division, and assigned duty as a rifle company commander, I made my final intelligence visit to the woman’s house to gain and pass information. I could not help noticing the sloping floor which indicated the rear of all the houses along the river were slowly sinking into the ground. I had always noticed this, and felt I would never want to live, or stay, for very long in one of these river-side houses. On this last night, I don’t know why, but for some reason I felt more attentive to my surroundings than usual, and had a slight uncomfortable feeling I could not recall ever having on these night time trips. After the meeting, as I was walking back down the street keeping very close to the houses along the river so not to easily be seen walking in the open, I observed that there was no one—outside smoking—no one. This became a signal to me, that there was some precaution being taken by the residents I was not aware of. As I started past my little ping-pong friend’s house, I heard this quiet voice coming from a dark corner on the porch. “Come, come, VC down the street.” It was the woman directing me to come inside her home. I was then faced with a hard decision. I rapidly asked myself, was this some trick to get me inside where some VC were waiting for me, or not? As I instantly realized there was no one outside smoking, the street was vacant and quiet, I made my quick and final decision, primarily based on all the smiles I had received from this family over several months, with the mother going back inside after her son and I started playing ping-pong, and returning with a very warm beer for me. The beer was always very warm, since they had no refrigeration. I then made my quick and final decision. I followed her into the house which was dimly lit. I noticed a very small kitchen with dining area to one side, and a very small single bedroom on the other side. Within the living room which we entered, there were several chairs and two beds, one for each child. She quickly told me to get into the bed which was up against the rear wall. I jumped in bed and pulled my pis-

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tol from the shoulder holster, holding it across my chest. She then directed her daughter to get in bed next to me, which she did without any hesitation. Her mother then pulled a sheet up over us, turned off the lights and went back outside and sat in the dark corner of the porch. It seemed like forever, but within a very few minutes the woman came back in and said: “VC gone, quick, you go now.” As I crawled out of the bed, of course, it ran across my mind—was she sending me out directly into the VC for capture, or not? It only took me a couple of seconds as I convinced myself—that was not the case. She had been protecting me from walking down the street and directly into a group of VC. The smiles that had become so imbedded in my mind, convinced me that she was not only protecting me, but was willing to risk all for our developed friendship. As she directed, I quickly left and cautiously crept back down the street and into our compound. Unfortunately, I had to leave the following morning, never getting the chance to return and thank this most wonderful lady—a friend forever! This lady and her children I would never forget, and of course their smiles had become deeply imbedded in my brain. For awhile after Viet Nam, I frequently thought about this wonderful family, always remembering their smiles. However, as time progressed over the years, I thought less and less about this family as I began to drop a lot of Viet Nam from my thoughts. Now comes the night of December 6, forty-six years later, as I was sitting reading the news paper. I definitely had not fallen asleep. I was wide awake when I finished reading and started to fold up the paper. That is when I saw this family of three—mother, daughter, and son—standing in the room in front of me, with those big smiles I never forgot, and still have not. I would not have recognized them if it had not been for those ever imbedded smiles in my memory. As I sat with my mouth open looking at my friends, that is when my wife thought something was wrong, based on the startled expression on my face. Suddenly, the faces, as well as the entire family faded away. Then it hit me like a lightning strike, as I must have seen and felt what is called an out of body experience. I can truthfully swear to this day, to me what I was seeing was real, for that few seconds of time. I was so stunned I stood up, telling my wife I was OK, as I walked out onto our porch on

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that cold winter night. I looked up into the star-filled-sky with a rising moon, and began to pray. I prayed for the family, indicating I had no idea if they were still alive or not; but I prayed if they were, that they would be looked after and kept safe. I also prayed, I had no idea what their religious beliefs were, but that I was convinced that we all would meet again in the Hereafter—that our friendship would last forever and ever—never to end. That would be a time when they would have no fear of their house sliding down the embankment during the monsoon season, or experiencing another war, or the separation and loss of friends. I now frequently pray for this family, and feel closer to them far beyond the closeness I felt when I was physically in their presence in Viet Nam. I am also convinced—we will meet again and embrace in love.

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My Tattooed Palestinian by Elvina Rose Meyer “Can I bum a cigarette off of you?” I don’t smoke but you stand out against the drab landscape. You’re outside the 7-Eleven clapping a pack of cigarettes against your palm with a blue windbreaker slung over your shoulder. You stand next to ash colored piles of sludge that have been scraped to the sides of the roads by snow tractors. The grey skies hover over us like polluted smog. An occasional flake of snow floats down onto your bare arms. Well, not bare exactly. Blue and black tattoos cover your skin and sneak out from under your white T-shirt. They snake around your forearms and some find their way onto your hands, where they trail off of your fingertips like honey dripping slowly from a spoon. I stare at them, and you catch me looking. I am surprised to see that you have blue eyes, because you have skin the color of dark caramel. “I like your tattoos,” I say, and I do. I will later learn that you are from Palestine and that you and your younger brother came here together, because it was that or become a soldier and your mother couldn’t stand to see another one of her sons die in a war over religion and land. Smiling, you hand me a cigarette. I try not to cough when inhaling the cloud of smoke, and I picture it, grey and elusive, slipping down my throat, just as the snow drops away from the clouds. Two weeks from now I will find myself lying in your bed with you asleep next to me. Your body is a series of interlocking words and images that extend from your neck down to your ankles. Your feet are the only part of you that have remained blank. On the inner crook of your right elbow is Noor, in blue Arabic, which you tell me means light and was the name of the girl you loved back home. It is a short word, only three letters. The nun, followed by the waw, which looks like a g, and then the ra, set apart from the others. On your back: “Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” It is from Romans and it swirls across the top of your shoulders in black cursive ink. Over your heart is the crescent moon and

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star of Islam. You refuse to talk about religion with me. Your back says you are a Christian, but your chest tells me you are a Muslim. I don’t know which side of your body to believe. Near your left ribcage the face of your dead brother stares out, encircled by the leaves of the olive tree. On your upper thigh, which is brown like almonds, a swan with its wings outstretched wraps itself across your strong legs, while an image of the evil eye keeps watch over you from above your knee. A string of five-pointed stars encircles your ankle. I count them. There are eight. You tell me that each star represents a member of your family who died back in Palestine. I realize that you have lost eight more people than I have. You roll over and drape your adorned arms around me. I am enfolded in your swirls of ink, amidst the stories. But for now, we stand outside the 7-Eleven, smoking cigarettes whose harshness burns my cold throat, while looking out at the ashen landscape. I shiver in my grey parka. You stand next to me, wrapped in your tattoos.

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Soul Carrier Oil on Canvas by Lorraine Leslie

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Stolen Song by Michelle Holland I lay my pebbles down, the few I gathered. The smooth and sparkle of the trail, I must confess, is what I stole, like the tiny soap from that hotel. Lay the feather from a bird I cannot name at my feet, because I am inside, away from the wind, the rain, the sun. Lay the curled, dry, ulna-length piece of root on the mantle, and the straight white bone of something, again, I cannot name. Yes, a guilty glance at all the little things I carried for a time, but no time compared to what brought them to the place where I found them. Because I could. Pick them up. Turn them over in my hand. Think about all that transpired before my step into the space they occupied without me for so long. Like church, like a prayer, like a song, I think, because they all mean something; they all belonged to a place, a time, an earthly moment. My voice is imposed, even when I whisper, remember, that their silence is not mine, but I want somehow to claim, “I am not a thief.�

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Jonah by Danien Bohnhorst His marrow holds a blueprint of the movements inside the whale, and now the land-locked life has cracked him like a seed. He burns his bungalow to ash. He burns the family of yellow jackets living in the eaves. He watches the picture windows shatter and melt down into mica flecks upon the black earth, then hops a train south through the valley, past a field of migrant lettuce pickers and their doubled backs, past young girls swinging their legs from a stack of railroad ties. He manages to sleep despite the white roar of the freight. The dimensions of the home he seeks come to him in dreams: they come in the shade of sand under rainclouds, they come in the perfect pitch of a tidepool filling after midnight. The message is uncertain, but he can feel himself closing in, dodging customs under the false trunk of a hired man’s pickup, hitching south along the coast until he finds his house and boat in a resort ravaged by war, windows shattered as he wants them, open to the ocean wind. He catches his first whitefish and races the sunlight back to shore, walking inland only far enough to pick a shirtful of limes. As night falls and the fish bakes in the coals, wrapped in foil and fresh salt, he runs his knife over a whetstone and watches the sea smoke drifting in.

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Spanish Lesson Nicaragua by Deborah Casillas Words surface in silvery scales, fish that glitter and disappear. Vocabulary of forgotten dreams. Plata, peces, sueños. A stifling room, sluggish air moved by the paddles of an overhead fan. My jaw tires from the effort of unaccustomed speech. Words mispronounced. Wrong tense. The ever-confounding subjunctive. The teacher, a diamond flashing in his ear, converses with me for hours. Listening for recovered meaning, for revelation. Years ago in Mexico I spoke this language, lyrical as colored song. Memory flickers like a damaged film— burning buses, soldiers with machine guns, the university closed down. I say lluvia, and I’m back in the city, walking in the pouring rain, dark hair hanging down my back, leaf-green coat

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soaking wet again. I’m ankle deep in the rush of water that floods Reforma every afternoon, magenta petals of bougainvillea washing down the street. Calle, flores, pÊtalos.

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After the Fall by Charlie Kalogeros-Chattan The chamisa are illuminated, clusters of citrine tear drops—the mesa in bloom. Along the path, a striated snake slithers past the shrine to Teresa of Avila, remnant of another age, Carmelites replaced by Buddhist monks advancing in slow motion, while Brother Sun’s ceramic face smiles on the red trunks of osier dogwood. A dead desert rat reclines, like our fat Pekingese naps, in the shade of the shovel, promise that winter winds will rattle the sage and slap the chimes in a syncopated frenzy, Mara churning, the river gone crazy.

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La Casita Photograph by Max Underwood

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Burgos to Castrojeríz – The Monastery of St. Anton by Natalie Campbell Walden The early risers had snored through the night, keeping everyone else awake and were now, at 5:00 AM, banging around, taking their showers and packing their bags by flashlight. Michael woke, yet again, two hours before he had planned. Far too late into the night he had walked the streets of Burgos, unable to shake the vision of gold obscenely dripping from the high altar of the Cathedral. It brought to mind the Inquisition, then and now, that rewarded the faithful at the cost of those who believed differently. Michael had until recently been Father Jerome, a dedicated parish priest who had lived the teachings of Christ in central Ohio. Now he was defrocked and confronted by the glaring exploitations of Catholic hierarchy on his first trip outside the US, walking the ancient Camino de Santiago in Spain. He had wondered if the pilgrimage would bring him back to the Catholic Church, but so far it was driving him further from organized religion and into unknown territory. The Burgos central Refugio was clean and brand new. One hundred pilgrims a night bunked on three floors. For Michael the most appealing aspect was the separate bathrooms. The awkward part of the journey was the coed bathing facilities in almost all of the hostels. In the States, men and women never shared a bathroom in a public place; here in Europe no one seemed to mind or even notice. There certainly wasn’t any licentious behavior, just politeness and respect. For Michael, after breaking his twenty-seven year vow of celibacy, it was at best confusing and at worst required an extra few minutes in the shower to gather his composure. This morning he had hoped to sleep until seven, be up and out by the eight o’clock deadline and thus be rested for the ten-day walk across the plains of Spain. But here he was wide awake at 5:00 and aggravated that the German crowd down the hall was thumping their

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way out to be the first on the trail, first to the next refuge and first to claim the best beds. Michael tried to go back to sleep, but once the group was on the move sleep was impossible. He pulled himself out of his silk sack, scratched a fresh bug bite and let himself down off the top bunk. He mistakenly stepped on the mattress of the bed beneath instead of the ladder rung. As a face turned toward him he began to apologize but froze in mid-sentence. It was the woman with the smile. That is what he had named her a week ago in Pamplona. He had seen her in the central square, the noon sun bouncing off her auburn hair, a smile that spoke of a life well-lived, confidence, mystery and self-possession and the pilgrim's pack with its scallop shell suspended from the back flap. Michael had stayed on in the city that night, feeling foolish, but hoping that he could meet her. And here she was blessing him with that smile from the bunk below. He had spent the night three feet from her in complete darkness. An hour later Michael was on the street outside the Refugio looking for the yellow arrow indicating today’s route. In some polite dance he and the “smile” had managed not to cross paths between packing and morning ablutions. He stood looking over the wall at the back of the cathedral, wondering why he had chosen not to meet her, when a voice broke his concentration. “Excuse me, would you mind taking my picture with the cathedral behind?” Michael turned and looked right past the smile into a pair of deep blue eyes. “Of course,” and reached for the phone in her outstretched hand. “I’m so sorry I woke you this morning stumbling out of my bunk,” he said. “Believe me I was already awake; the early risers were particularly noisy this morning. Do you know the route out of town? I haven’t gotten my bearings yet.” “There is a scallop shell on the corner. Are you on your own?” “Yes,” she said quietly. Still feeling awkward, Michael mumbled, “Would you like to walk together for a while?”

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“Yes, that would be nice. If you can get us out of town I would be deeply grateful. I am not at my strongest today." Michael followed the arrows and shells through the streets until they found the wide trail heading out into the open plains. Other than exchanging names when they stopped for a coffee and a bocadillo they spoke very little. The day proceeded much like others, but the landscapes had changed. North of Burgos was dry and rocky, today they were out on a fertile plain. At first Michael felt uncomfortable with their silence; he had searched for something to say but words just died on his lips. As the miles passed a sense of calm came over him. The route crossed a patchwork of fields, some newly plowed and others covered in winter wheat, sprinkled with red poppies. As there were few towns between Burgos and CastrojerĂ­z, where he planned to stop for the night, they both carried picnic lunches. The wind was pushing them from behind and Michael began to realize that the day had become quietly like the days he most cherished as a priest. He felt a mystical communion that in the past he had only found in the sanctuary, but here he was walking in silence with an intriguing woman, wanting her and wanting all the imagined richness of life and love. He felt the same deep inner peace now coming to him at every step through the wind, the sky and the grasses. Slowly he had stopped seeking words; he stopped thinking of his past or of his future beyond Santiago de Campostella. He found himself just there on the route, his feet meeting the ground, his pack a little too heavy, a blister on his baby toe, with a sense of connection to the land. He had been counting footfalls with his head down so he was almost upon the Monastery of St. Anton before he saw it. The road went right through the ruin. Much of the building had fallen but a few of the vaulted arches still stood against the sky. The incongruity of the ancient church with the modern road stopped him in his tracks. In the quiet within the protection of the walls his companion said, "There is an apse to our left. Shall we rest and eat our lunch?" He followed her through the spring grass to the remnants of a wall that was high enough to block the wind but open to the north giving them a view across miles of green. He was surprised to see snow-capped mountains in the distance.

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"Why are you walking the Camino?" It was the usual question but for the first time he refrained from his standard, glib reply and looked at her. She spoke English with a subtle accent but he was too inexperienced to identify it. She smiled encouragingly and he took the chance. "I am on the run, sort of. I was a priest three months ago. I was called Father Jerome, but now I am Michael again after nearly thirty years. It felt sudden but if I am honest it has been brewing for years. I grew up in a church of good works, not Evangelism. I lived by the belief that my good works would bring souls to God. Some of my parishioners asked me to start a Bible Study group. John and Alice Carver joined in hopes of saving their marriage. John was a rigid follower of the literal teachings of the bible and of Catholic doctrine. Alice was different. She had the soul of a seeker. Her compassion and empathy humbled me. I was being required as their priest to close her down and to shove her into a theological box. What happened was that my box began to lose its integrity and ultimately disintegrated in the strength of her love. She did not believe that there was only one way to God and she had every argument at hand to support her position. “I haven't spoken to anyone about this, except my Bishop who tried to persuade me to stay. I told him that I had to leave the priesthood, but that I would walk the Camino to see if it might lead me back." "And has it?" "No, it is leading me somewhere new. I realize now that the church has been built on the supposition that we are separate from each other and God. But we aren’t. We are really one with all things? I can no longer believe that I am a sinner on this earth seeking redemption for my sins. Life and God are one and in the teaching of Love we must learn to love ourselves too. The church makes that hard. I am a long way from knowing what I believe but I do know that I am learning more about what it takes to bring love and good into the world by walking than I did in twenty-seven years as a priest." They watched a shepherd and his dog move a flock of sheep across a pasture. "I think we should go," she said, "it’s still four miles to Castrojeríz." She got up and he watched her calmly make her way through the

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broken stones of the church. He let her lead for the rest of the day watching her steady stride and the seeming ease with which she carried her pack. He felt relieved, albeit adolescent, for having unburdened himself to her and there she was walking toward the hill town where, in spite of himself, he was making plans for the evening. Just before they got to the Refugio she stopped. As he came up next to her she turned and faced him. "You are a good man Michael. May you forgive yourself.� With that she kissed him gently and said, "I'm taking the bus back to Burgos and then going on to Leon." She smiled at him one more time and as she walked away he had a passing thought that perhaps she was one of the angels that travel the Camino helping pilgrims. Whoever she was, he knew that he had just received Benediction.

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Demonicos y Canciones Mi Padre (Demons and Songs of My Father) by Pamela Ramos Langley I haven’t laid eyes on my father for nearly a decade, and then there was the sad span of estrangement before that. As the years pass he melts from my memory— a spilled puzzle with pieces missing. I hear he lives less than an hour from me and my worried relations keep saying age has crept into him; but time doesn’t heal all wounds. Do these fissures with our parents root in a single shattered moment, or are they accumulated? The past refracts through the pool of my memory, skewing the angle of accuracy. I could never decide if my father and I were inherently opposed, or if we saw our own reflections when we clashed. These are some things my father said to me. I had an uncle in Mexico and sometimes I was made to stay with him. Times when my mother had a new man and the man didn’t want so many children around. The uncle lived in a neighboring village, too far to run home. This uncle could be cruel. I didn’t like this uncle and I didn’t like staying with him. My father sits for a while before speaking again; he seems to be shoring up for a confession. “You know, Pamela, I saw el Diablo’s tail at my uncle’s house.” “You saw the tail of the devil?” I’m young enough to think maybe it’s so. I try to process the physical witness of something so terrible, the brutal specter of it. He can see I’m frozen, and skeptical, too. He’s desperately earnest when he tells me that he saw the thick, evil tail, with the arrowhead tip, sliding like a python around a corner at my uncle’s house. I know how to enrage my father. My mother says we’re just alike. Even when he strikes me I don’t waiver. I don’t back down when I’m the tiniest child and I remain staunch until the day I leave. I get up near his face, twitching but resolute, and scream my truths at him. I hate you, I

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say, you embarrass me, I say, you’re mean. And you don’t speak right, I add. His face sets in such a way I’ve never forgotten. His mouth is just edges—harsh, taut lines. There’s a scent coming from him, molten and metallic. His teeth are like a cheetah’s, beautifully aligned and showing. He slows his rage to nearly a standstill, raises his calloused mitt then stops. He says to me almost quietly he’s so ferocious, “I never wanted you, you piece of shit.” “I want you to look around, kids, I want you to look at what it means to be poor.” He’s driving us through downtown Los Angeles, circling Skid Row and environs as punishment for my acting up because there was something I wanted that I didn’t get. There are loads of things I want, because my parents have sacrificed so much for us to live in a good neighborhood and attend solid schools. My mother makes her own clothes and ours, cooks our meals from scratch, we never eat out, our furniture is used. The other kids all seem to have so much more. When I’m with my friends after birthdays or the Christmas holiday, I list off an imaginary tally because our shared and practical gifts (like soap and socks) don’t compare. My brother has to suffer beside me in the car for my demands. But his body language is yielding and mournful, and he conveys appropriate contrition. I’m rigid from head to toe, my eyebrows scrunched and my face plastered to the window without empathy. I will make no concessions. My mother sits still in the front seat, her fingers laced through my father’s. Often she’ll fight for us, but today she’s with him. My dad is relentless as we cruise down the grimy streets where debris collects in the gutters and abandoned doorways. “You don’t know, Pamela, what it feels like to ask for food and have your mother tell you there is none. You don’t know how your belly growls like an angry Gato when you’re hungry and you smell other people’s meals. When you demand things you should think about how many children in this world don’t have anything. Many children go hungry and are happy just to get food.” I say nothing. Concentrate on not moving a muscle, focus on my

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entitlements. “Are you listening, Pamela? Do you see? Your mother and I, she lived in Berlin through a war and I went to school hungry. You aren’t any more special than that.” I don’t hear what he says until many years later. My father’s voice was untrained and beautiful. He used it best in the shower, where the resonance amplified off the tiles, buoyant through the water and of the early morning. He belted it like a trumpet, his anguish loosened through songs like “La Paloma,” “Amor, Amor,” “La Bamba,” and Marty Robbins’ “El Paso.” My love was deep for this Mexican maiden; I was in love but in vain, I could tell. I’d be just crossing out of sleep, a dream fading like a turned-down radio, and for a languid moment—before I recalled our rivalry—I would love the sound. With unmediated memory, I would treasure the echo of my father’s song. I see the white puff of smoke from the rifle. I feel the bullet go deep in my chest. This is junk music you listen to, he told my brother and me, after ripping up posters that we’d hung in our rooms of Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, Queen. This music is for idiots, marijuana smokers, low-lifes. “You tore up our posters,” I shouted at his invasion. He shouted back at me, “I sure did. This is my house and I forbid you to listen to that garbage!” After leaving home, I returned just once. I left a violent relationship in a distant state. My friend, a nurse, saw evidence and intervened. I had no choice but to go home. My father was angry from the moment I arrived. He wouldn’t speak to me. He waited for his moment when we were alone, and said, “You know, Pamela, you’re an adult now and I think I can speak frankly with you.” “I didn’t want you here and I fought your mother about this. Your mother and I, you know, we do fine when you aren’t here. We’re happy. You come around and we fight because your mother protects you.” “From what, Dad? From you?”

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“You and I, we aren’t alike,” he raises his voice. “You think you deserve things without working for them. You think people owe you something. I don’t owe you anything. I never had nothing, no one gave me nothing, and I never expected nothing from no one.” Each time he says “nothing,” the “n” is protracted and spewed. He glares at me, I see he’s shaky. “He hit me, dad. He broke my nose! He hit me and choked me and other stuff, too. I didn’t come back because I wanted to be here, to be around you.” “You being here will ruin my marriage. I am asking you, Pamela, for the love of God, to please just leave.” What is that called, he asks me when I’m old enough to become a source, when a church makes a display with Mother Mary and Joseph and the animals and a cradle in the hay? You mean a nativity, I reply. In Spanish we say nacimiento, he explains. Say it again, he says, and sounds it out, nah-tee-vee-tee, then, nah-TI-vi-tee, getting closer. When I was born on the 22nd of December, he tells me, there was another boy born in my village the next day, and our mothers fought over which baby would be in the nativity. And so the mothers asked for the opinion of the other women of the village and I was chosen as the baby Jesus (and he says it Hay-suess with his plush accent), because all the women agreed I was more beautiful. My father didn’t often express his vanity, but he told that story about being the chosen baby Jesus whenever he could work it into the conversation. But he never told me I was beautiful, and he didn’t like talk around the female form. He cringed from my emerging body, hung up the phone when boys would call. He lifted a section of my hair and said it was a rat’s nest, and said he pitied whoever married me. “I feel sorry for your husband,” he told me, “You gonna try and run him.” My father was an expert at selecting produce. He told us he used to be a farmworker. His hands are the toughest hands I’ve ever known. He worked on farms throughout the west, from Texas to California to Idaho. Artichokes to tomatoes, apricots to strawberries. Strawberries are

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rough, he told us, you get stung by wasps and bees, and the juice attracts spiders and bugs that bite. You kids don’t know, but that fruit you love, oranges and avocados and key lime for pie, they come off trees with thorns like knives. How do you think the fruit comes off? It can’t hit the ground, you gotta pick it. Pomegranates, they’re about the worst, scratched me all up. He gestures at the faint, crisscrossed scars creating a roadmap along his brown arms and wrists. He worked the fields of watermelon, too, and we never had a bad one in the house. He picked the most succulent specimens—hoisting the oblong, solid green kind up to his chest, ear to the fruit, thumping and explaining how you had to hear the thud conducted through the juice, from one end to the other, like a current. I have never been able to duplicate his skill. A cantaloupe is easy, he told me. Just put your thumb right here, it should be soft and pliant like your belly button. Then stick your nose up to that belly button and sniff it; it should smell like enough to make your mouth water. Like you’re in paradise, he said, hugging the fragrant melon, like you’re in the Garden before the Fall, he said staring off and blinking the moisture from his eyes.

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Triangle for Angie by Jack Cooper A triangle by its very nature seems to be pointing somewhere, journeying, not leaning and overbearing like a trapezoid, not self-satisfied like a square, not complete like a circle but crystalline, fractal, faceted, an alignment of threes, the form you visualized for your world of you and him and the baby, the simple, the spacious, the beautiful. You wanted to live simply like the earth, the moon and the stars but not extremely so like the woman who decided not to own more than 100 things who would have to discard one to acquire another. Bringing home a shell from the beach meant tossing an earring, not like that. You wanted to honor spaciousness like silence and stillness and room for breathing but not like the Tibetan lama who drank only buffalo milk and meditated on the third eye in a cave of the ancients, not like that. You wanted a simple, spacious, impassioned life, drawn together by the beautiful because beauty is fragile and therefore courageous, because where there is beauty there can be transcendence like a garden, like a cloud, like a smile but not like the Grecian Urn, not frozen in time, not where love is always out of reach, not like that, not like what really happened.

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Beer and Bach by Andrei Guruianu Beer and Bach in the capital in a parking lot for the wandering spirit. Bukowski had it right—simple and blasphemous as falling in love—to live this life on ungiven terms. Tonight an old-world incantation, sotto voce unfolding under sign of the ghost, the waltzing couples modeling a fairy tale rhythm—just because it is June and the clear blue is dizzy with unidentifiable birds. Some are holding each other’s waist, necks twisting like swans—others smile through high crimes of loneliness in open-air, wondering if it’s ever possible to take flight on a single wing.

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Altibajos Photograph by Max Underwood

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Novela Norteña –– Red or Green Episode by Sharon Guerrero Fade in: Int. kitchen - day A hand holds a large knife in the air, tip pointing down. In the blade a MAN’S image GLIMMERS. The knife plunges swiftly into a large green chili splitting it open, seeds SQUIRT all over the counter. The Man screams. Int. kitchen - Santa Fe, NM - evening Oscar Chacon, a heavy set middle aged Hispanic male, sits at a round kitchen table reading the New Mexican newspaper with a tall boy beer at his reach. Reading glasses perch on his head and another pair on his nose. Lupita Chacon, an attractive middle aged Hispanic woman, wife of Oscar, stands at the nearby stove stirring chili in a large pot. Oscar Mujer, what’s that smell? Oscar puts down his paper and Lupita, not looking up, answers in a low voice. Lupita It’s green--Oscar ---what the hell, I thought it was red tonight. Oscar snaps the paper open and stares at it clearly agitated. Manny Chacon, their thirteen year old son, enters the kitchen texting on his cell phone. Oscar It’s a miracle...my son makes an appearance. Texting without missing a beat, Manny mumbles. Manny It’s a green night. Oscar shakes his head as Lupita pats Manny on the back.

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Lupita That’s right, hito, thanks for showing up... Joey Chacon, their eight year old son, shuffles into the kitchen playing a gameboy. Joey It’s green tonight, right? Lupita nods at Joey with a smile on her face. Lupita Verdad...you boys make me proud. Oscar throws the paper down. Oscar Proud...proud of what? Just ’cause they can tell pinche green from red? The boys ignore the comment. Lupita steady, doesn’t back down. Lupita Ay que va hombre...watch your language around the children--Oscar ---they’re not children, they’re men and real men eat red chili. (pause) Green’s for wussies. The boys look up and stare at Oscar. Manny Uh oh, not this again, I’m outta here. Manny moves toward the door. Joey Hey...you can’t leave me here to suffer, dude--Lupita ---No one has to suffer. Now, we’re going to act like civilized human beings and sit down to dinner. Manny quips. ’Cause the family that eats together, freaks together... Joey laughs out loud and Oscar gives the boys a deadly look. Joey Take a chill pill Manny, Dad’s not playin’...he’s already on number three--Oscar ---you shut your mouth...who’s counting, Mr. know-it-all?

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Manny grimaces and Lupita fusses as she prepares to serve the meal. Oscar (continued) A la vey...I’m forced to eat green chili on a red chili night. Manny, frustrated, throws his phone down on the table. Manny Ma...I’m not putting up with this abuse. Oscar twists his head toward Lupita, as she serves the chili. Oscar You hear that? Always giving into these little--Lupita ---hold your tongue cabron. Joey snickers and Manny stands pointing at Lupita. Manny Ohhhhh...that hurts. Lupita yells in frustration. Lupita Shut up and sit down, everybody. Joey grabs for a tortilla and remarks to Manny shaking his head. Joey See what you did...made Mom yell dude. Oscar clutches his stomach. Oscar Mujer, get me the Pepto Bismo... andale. Lupita reluctantly leaves the room. Manny nudges Joey. Manny Eeee...now Dad’s got ulcer pains. Oscar rolls up his paper and reaching over to give the boys a crack spills his bowl of chili on the floor. Lupita runs into the kitchen She surveys the scene and puts her hands on her hips. Lupita Looks like you don’t have to eat green tonight, panzon... Manny and Joey dig into their chili with their heads down giggling. Fade out.

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Skunked by Susan Johnson I grip a book. My dad grips a Manhattan. As with his car’s gas tank, the glass is never less than a quarter full. But never before 10AM. Heh kid, it’s almost 9:30, he says pulling the whiskey slush from the freezer saved from the night before, every night before. I’m just topping it off. Skol. None of us ever had that jeezless post traumatic stress crap. What do they call it? PMS? When I came back from Italy, Algiers it was just about getting a job, a family, settling down. Hello Mr Henderson, how are you tonight? I’m going to ask you a few questions. How many fingers? Who’s president? How much have you been drinking tonight? Six beer, a fifth of rye, four highballs, two glasses of wine. I don’t have enough fingers. Ha, ha, ha. He grips the glass, the table, the bed rail, my arm. How else am I supposed to wash it all away.

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How to Bury a Father by Jeanne Simonoff With dignity, body rocking back and forth in prayer. Consider kindness an elegy one stanza no more. Coming Home He'd love that tee shirt I tell the woman at the Arroyo Seco River fair. Why don't you get it for him? What size? We bury him tomorrow I tell her. My cousin Michael Ann says He'd love that and laughs. We pour that into the mix. If I knew a joke about death dirges I'd fold that in, along with Snickers bars enough to last the long trip. And after that, I too will carry the coffin. Is that proper, my mother asks the rabbi. What's proper when all is said and done. Of course, to honor him. That's why we're all here.

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Don't forget the plastic bag I tell my mother. With the soil from the land of Israel. If he plays his cards right he will come back. As what, she asks. A Jew, same as before No one gets out easy. I place his prayer shawl out to dress him. He'd go back there as he was on his thirteenth birthday. The way he was born, as a Jew identified with knots, fringe and glory. I still see him Saturday mornings in temple, up on the pulpit, handing out torah portions. It's called and I spell it phonetically. All-e-ah. It means to go up.

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For My Niece Lauren at Two Weeks Old by Teisha Twomey I want you to know your name means “The Bay”. Although you are very small, I want you to know the bay is a large body of water, and your parents are the coastline. They surround you. Remember this later, if your own shores seem thin, if you ever feel stranded. I want you to know you should visit the sea when you are older, a good reminder. Your father and I were both born on Cape Cod. His eyes, the color of its coastal waters. Notice: this cape shields the state of Massachusetts from major storms. The bay is a place where gifts roll up at your feet. You could collect them, conch shells, especially. If you press them to your ear you’ll hear the waves deep inside. This too, will be a reminder of how strong you are. A bay may be called a gulf, a cove, a sound. The sound of waves were heard the moment you were born. I promise, I heard them, saw you curling shoreward.

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Beyond the Pier Photograph by Gerard Martinez y Valencia

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Just Walk Away by Tom Hazuka I’m making a deposit at the bank, a half-decent check from a housepainting job, paid under the table. Thinking again about what Laura said last night, I look past the teller to the drive-up window, where a red-faced, beefy bastard in a tight T-shirt and a Hummer ignores the other teller’s thanks and advice to have a nice day. He drives off, eyes on his phone, texting with one hand. Through the space vacated by his obscene vehicle I notice the ATM in the outer lane, its front panel raised like the hood of a broken-down car. Suddenly I have a reason to do more than just get through this day. Come on, come on, hurry up with that receipt. How often do you have a shot to see the guts of an ATM? For me, exactly zero times in thirtysix years on this planet. The teller slaps down the slip of paper. “Have a nice—“ “You too,” I say, already heading for the door. I stride outside and around the corner, sure that with my luck the machine’s face will be snapped shut again. I stop, relieved to find the panel still open like an invitation. There’s also something I couldn’t see from inside the bank: a red Dunbar armored truck blocking access to the ATM. But that’s only for cars. I can walk right up. Still, something about those trucks is intimidating, shadows of Panzers blitzing across Poland. A tall guard in a crisp uniform finishes sliding a tray into the ATM. If there’s such a thing as a noncommittal glare, that’s what he gives me. I almost say the hell with it, but instead I step closer because this is a fucking free country, right? “First time I’ve had a chance to look inside one of these things,” I say pleasantly, as if I’m commenting on the weather. The guy stares at me. “Just walk away.” What was I expecting to see--thick stacks of Benjamins? Instead, the money machine is about as interesting as the bowels of a printer. The tray he installed might as well be a toner cartridge. “I’m not going to steal anything.”

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“I didn’t say you were. Now walk away.” “Fine. Excuse me for having a little curiosity.” He squints against the sun. “You know what that did to the cat.” I feel my face twist as I roll my eyes. Seriously, dude? You’re really that big a douchebag? But those words don’t leave my head, never make it to my mouth. Walking to my car I can’t recall if he had a gun on his hip, but I’m not going to give that prick the satisfaction of seeing me turn around. I hate my hand for trembling as I unlock my Grand Prix. Maybe Laura was right, maybe that is my problem--I just let the goddamn world happen to me. I might even tell her so if she ever answers my messages. Sitting in the driver’s seat, I think about that year I played Little League. I was small, scrawny and scared of the ball, and only joined because my father pressured me. The coach would put me in for two innings a game, which I spent in right field praying no ball would come my way. The rare times I got up to bat I’d crouch low, creating a strike zone the size of a bull’s-eye. “A walk’s as good as a hit!” I’d hear through my helmet, yelled by my teammates, my coach, eventually even by my father. And I usually would walk. Everyone knew swinging was my worst option. The fat-ass Dunbar truck lumbers by like it runs the world. I expect some attitude from Mr. Armed Guard, protector of rich men’s gold from no threat whatsoever, but the son of a bitch drives away like I’m not even here.

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Driveway by Claire Sandrin Driving down her street, the one she drove down one, two, ten times a day, everything looked different. She saw a swing set in the neighbor’s front yard and, because of its chipped paint, doubted it was new. She noticed the wall on the corner was starting to crumble. The air had a piercingly clear quality, the kind that comes after a big rain, though it hadn’t rained for months. Through the windshield, she watched people go about their Saturday routines, as if nothing had happened. She wished she had a light to put on top of her car, like a taxi, that blinked, telling the world she wasn’t who she used to be, and that nothing was as it had been before Thursday. The light could warn others that she was coming, so they might look the other way, thereby sparing them both the discomfort of not knowing what to say. Her hands gripped the leather bound steering wheel tightly and her nail beds turned white. Pulling into the driveway, she could see him get out of his truck and walk towards the house. She parked behind his truck and imagined him switching his briefcase from right to left, as he fumbled for keys to unlock the front door. But, the door stood open and, as she got out of the car, her mom emerged with arms open wide. She was crying. The light on top of her car would say I’m Fine or Please Don’t Hug Me Right Now or No, I Don’t Know Where I’ll Go Yet or No, I Haven’t Thought About What I’ll Do For Thanksgiving Or Christmas or Leave Me Alone or I Know You Mean Well But. But, they don’t make lights for the tops of cars that say that. “Sweetheart,” said her mom. And, tensing before the hug, she let her mother’s grief envelop her.

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To That First and Only One Dollar Bill I Slipped Under a Stripper’s G-String by Timothy Vigil I hope you’re happy. While you, my crumpled up, torn, and sticky friend, were dangling and dancing around that woman’s crotch I was outside getting my brains busted out. Turns out you’re allowed to see, but not touch. Don’t worry, I came out alive, and the hospital bill was covered by my indigent status. It didn’t require another dollar bill from me. Since that night, I’m sure you’ve squiggled your way around a lot of unsavory places. Maybe on to another stripper, or into a pimp’s wallet, possibly in-between my drunk uncle’s couch cushions, inside a plumber’s crack, or hopefully down a pothole into Manhattan’s sewer system. Either way, I’m sure you’re having the time of your meaningless, paper life. It’s sad that my last dollar bill can travel all across the country and I can’t even move out of my parent’s house. My hope is that you never get anywhere. Someone shoots you into a vending machine for a can of soda or a bag of chips, and you’re stuck inside there until the warden unlocks you from your prison, crams you in to his bag with all the other dollar bills, only to be stashed inside of a bank vault somewhere, never to be touched again. Sincerely, Poor enough and pissed off enough to write to a one dollar bill.

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Cup of Coffee by Judy Mosher It is day three of a seven-day silent Buddhist meditation retreat. This rustic ranch near Oracle, Arizona is the perfect, rural setting for our thirty retreatants. Vipassana Meditation and mindfulness practice has calmed, focused, and awakened minds for thousands of years, and by today, my ordinary mental chatter has almost disappeared. It is such a gift to leave work and life responsibilities for seven whole days of quietude. It is five AM. The wake up bell vibrates gently in my ear. My eyes open to my dark casita as I picture the bell ringer passing our dwellings, gently waking us. D I N G – echoes again in my room. I stretch, feeling the cool sheets against my toes and bare legs. Each day, I drop deeper into solitude as I shed social expectations like caked-mud flaking off my hiking boots. With only bathroom light, I dress while my consciousness slowly wakes to this day. Morning is chilly in the Arizona desert in February. I plop my poncho over my layered clothes, slide my fingers into my wool gloves, and pick up my flashlight. Today I rose early to find coffee before our first meditation. Walking mindfully, I feel the uneven terrain and am watchful of the circular flashlight beam illuminating the path. The air chills my face; my habituated mind urges me to hurry. My observing mind merely names: cold nose. Fingers warm in my gloves, torso toasty under my alpaca-woven poncho, nose stinging cold. I suffer less, observing cold nose instead of my usual brrrrrr, I’m so cold, hurry! Suffering comes in the urge to avoid or what Buddhism calls aversion. I see how sensation brings just awareness of cold, but my mental habits add the rest of the drama. This realization pleases me as I hear the frozen earth crunch beneath each step. The lights through the dining hall windows grow brighter. Inside, sweetness fills the air, not unlike my grandmother’s homemade cinnamon rolls. I remove my gloves and poncho placing them on

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a chair near the east-facing windows. I take a deep sniff – bread baking and fresh brewed coffee on the serving table. I notice another retreatant sitting at a table along the wall. In keeping with tradition, we do not make eye contact or greet each other. This agreement grants us the opportunity to maintain whatever depth of inner experience we find, without bringing consciousness back to the level of social engagement. One of my most treasured retreat experiences is just this. The clock reads five-thirty. I want to giggle. I am happy to have twenty minutes to savor my coffee before our first sit. Mindfully, I walk to the serving table. There is a tray with about thirty off-white ceramic mugs lined up in rows. I feel gratitude. Someone’s effort ensured hot water, tea, coffee, cream, sugar, agave, and clean mugs would be available for us. I pause. When I step off the treadmill of my life, I see our interdependence, and I know gratitude. For this cup in my hands I am grateful. I pull the silver lever on the Bunn Coffee Pot and watch the black liquid fill my cup. The cup is warm as I cradle it in my hands. I close my eyes, lift it to smell the strong aroma, feel moisture condense on my nose. I feel happy to just be here. How many cups of coffee have I gulped while distracted by news on the radio, by driving in morning traffic, or multitasking at work? Those thoughts recede. My eyes open, the lamplight in the corner casting soft shadows in the room. I put my cup down and pour in cream, stir to a golden tan. I lift it, feel the smooth rim on my lips; the coffee is warm, soothing in my mouth. I take another sip. Nowhere else to be, nothing else to think about, makes me happy. It is so simple, but not so easy, being fully in the present. I open my eyes as the sun’s rays begin to glow behind the eastern horizon. I sip and savor this warm creamy cup of coffee. D I N G….the distant bell reminds us we have ten minutes to get to our cushions in the barn-turned-Zendo. I wonder, in a week or month, will I remember this blissful cup of coffee?

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Heart of the Bodhisattva Mixed Media by Lorraine E. Leslie

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Featured Poet: Ann Filemyr These five poems are part of a series that explore the myriad possibilities for love in our utterly human lives. The characters in these poems, driven by desire to belong to each other and the land, experience the unexpected. They want, we want, to love and be loved. Years ago a Literature Professor told me the most common type of poem in the English language is the love poem. This challenged me to consider love poetry deeply and moved me to make my own unique contribution by writing love poems that may not have been considered before. These poems are now collected in the book, Love Enough, published by Red Mountain Press in 2014.

A Child Falls in Love with a Ferris Wheel I hate the cotton candy carnival. Men with missing fingers leering at little girls. But she wanted to go the minute she saw the wheel lapping at heaven's milk. She wants wings, thrills, frightful as a shark. I have become too old for joy in fear. The inevitable final ride charcoals my days. My cranberry heart dries as she lifts into pleasurable orbit kicking and screaming with glee. What if she doesn't come back? Keeps trailing up the pianissimo air?

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Must rush clawing hand over hand a wheezing train wreck, my harmonica breath the calliope spinning as she rocks in her little boat. Shush, baby, let me layer you with feathers. I am a red ant as she hawks upward.

A Man Falls in Love with a Fork Black Angus steak beside Idaho potato Porterhouse, rare, a man thing a sharp knife is useful, but the truth? Only a fork brings it to the mouth. Steel pronged tip angling up like the thrust of an antler. Elks battle steam rises from their rumps. The stench of rut, ice breaking from rock creek rushing past, shaggy green ponderosa needles. He hears the bleating push of labor, smells the blood. The life of it, the life of life bearing itself over and over. A man needs a fork to rifle up the meat Longhorn cattle bruising Texas prairie teats hanging down, dirt heaving beneath their hooves, the appaloosa six hands high and fast. Subway rumbling in the gut of the city. Sweat on his temple when the blip on the screen shows the market crash. What he had counted on and re-counted. Vanishing. Smoke in a circus mirror. But a fork

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a bare fork, not prissied up in a cloth napkin, cold metal cocked in his right hand for the grab and stab, lift and bite. A man needs a meal more than money. He wraps his fist around a fork and will not let go.

The Old Painter Loves His Granddaughter The only child of his third son, his favorite plays near him in the refurbished barn. Shades of cochineal, cerulean the intermittent umber of September grasses. He takes a bucket of rags to the garbage. Kneels there. His penetrating eyes lock on hers, two blue pitchers of water, and he asks her: Do you know the root of human suffering? Bellybutton poked out beneath a tee shirt. Thumb in her mouth. She shakes her head no. The need to be seen and known! It wrecks us. But I will always see you. I will always know you. He stands up then and they walk back to his studio hand in hand

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An Old Woman Falls in Love with a Hummingbird Ruby-throated warrior aiming for joy remind me to remain myself no matter what age brings my dirt road winds down the mountain. A girl spins, one foot kicking up dust the other pegged to the earth arms wide, eyes open, skirt flaring I wake up again today to the thrill of hummingbirds.

The Widow in Muir Woods These redwoods are older than time They eat the void Some of them have only Black absence inside Still they keep growing I hear their language borne of light. I step inside one Smell the lightning-burned hollow

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Charred Empty Numinous Close my eyes Despite loss Perhaps I can keep living

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Mimes Photograph by Brian Fishbine

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Saint Joan by Jen Michalski She is near because the scent of Jungle Gardenia, with top notes of orange and sage, idles in the air. Then I see her, a robe of navy and yellow silk, in the passenger seat of our minivan, smoking a Chesterfield. “Why must everything be a contest?” Joan Crawford looks back at my children as they fight over a video game, kicking, pushing. They ignore her at the height of her drama. I let her talk, talk until her eyebrows arch almost perpendicular to her eyes and she sighs so heavily it tickles my ear. Guiltily, I pull into the drive-thru. Even Joan leans over to see the menu, cautiously optimistic of an orange drink, onion rings. * * * * My mother and aunt smoked cigarettes, their toes separated by cotton that kept blood-red nails from commiserating. They turned magazine pages in the yard. She’s a goddamn slut is what she is, my mother said about an actress. Goddamn slut, I repeated, skipping, bare feet, soft grass. My mother lurched toward me, her hand moving faster, harder, on my face. Jesus, Sandy, stop it. My aunt said, frowning. That’s enough. My mother’s sunglasses slid down her nose, her red-purple swollen eye squinting at the world like something undercooked, not long for this world. * * * * Joan brings them to where I lay in bed, boy’s underpants and socks, crushed drink boxes, action men. When are they going to learn to put things away? She complains. We hear the crash. I follow her, blood pounding in my neck, fists clenched. We stand over the broken vase, the one Gary gave me for our anniversary. I didn’t mean to, my youngest wails, and Joan squats, grabs him by his arms. She wears her cowgirl outfit from “Johnny Guitar,” her red scarf fluttering.

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Don’t fuck with me fella. She shakes him. This ain’t my first time at the rodeo. Later, I sit on the bed, watching him sleep. My mother used cayenne pepper and petroleum jelly on bruises. I move my hand lightly over his skin, the jelly shiny, imagining it is ultrasound that sees into him. I look for monsters in his dreams, in waking. * * * * Joan sits on the edge of the bathtub, filing her nails, as I finger the pills in the medicine cabinet. She laughs, so large, so belittling, leaning over and beckoning. Love is fire. She whispers. But whether it is going to warm your hearth or burn down your house, you can never tell. I push her into the war. Her eyes widen white and bubbles stream from her nose as we struggle. A strand of her hair floats to the surface, defeated. There have been appointments, sandstone medical buildings in shopping centers. There have been half-filled journals and half-read books. There have been therapist bills and fights with Gary. I unplug the drain, watching her swirl once more into the pipes, into the things that quietly build in the ground, under the house, until they burst.

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Missing You by Susan Paradise What’s it been? Six years since we’ve been separated? I was just looking at an old photo of us and it’s hard to believe that you’re no longer around. When I lost you, I lost a part of myself. And now that you’re gone I’m left with this empty hole; a scar so close to my heart. We’d been together our entire life. I can recall how you changed as we went through puberty. You became even more tender and sensitive. It was like you blossomed overnight. You became the topic of much conversation and sometimes an occasional source of embarrassment. Sometimes I’d try and hide you. I guess that’s because the ‘new you’ took some getting used to. From that point on, the boys always noticed you first, often ignoring me. But they needed me in order to get to you. Oh the foolish things they would do, just to get a glimpse of you, or hopefully a touch. You knew this, and sometimes encouraged me to tease them, which I unabashedly did. Yes, the two of you were sly little devils! I remember when I was fourteen and fell in love with Barry. All he did was talk about you, and insisted on seeing you every time we got together. He even carried a photo of the two of you in a bikini in his wallet. I was never jealous, although sometimes I wondered if he loved you more than he loved me. Sometimes, even with the best intentions, you could be manipulated at the hands of others. And your folly often got me into trouble, but I wouldn’t trade a minute of it. I’m forever grateful for all the years of pleasure you provided me. What a great time we had together! But it wasn’t just me- everybody who had the pleasure of knowing you loved you. And when I was down and out, and experiencing the worst time of my life, having given birth to a baby boy alone, who was there to pull me through? It was the two of you who nursed and nourished him. I couldn’t have done it without you! But what I admired most was, no matter what happened, over the years you never got bent out of shape, and stood erect. Even at the tender

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age of twenty-four, after doctors suspected something might be wrong with you and they dug for clues, you remained perky. I was so proud of you, as were your admirers. They would say, despite everything you went through, you hadn’t changed. Thirty years passed. There were warning signs along the way that someday we might have to part. I tried to accept that my days with my bosom buddies might be drawing to an end. And when the time came, I had to admit, without you, I felt I would be nothing. As I laid on the gurney, scrubbed for surgery, cobalt blue markers encircled you, and arrows pointed to your departure. I looked at you for the last time, then covered myself with the blanket and cried for us- all of us. You, me and all the other women who lay waiting to say good-bye to parts of themselves and to the uncertainty ahead. Severed, stitched up, and afraid to look, I took a deep breath, unwrapped the bandages and with my fingers, lovingly traced your tracks. Although we’re no longer together; you in a lab- me back home, I think of you every time I look in the mirror. My hope is that you’re in a better place now, a place where you can make a difference. Oh sure, the doctors suggested that I replace you. They said my ‘New yous’ might even be better than my ‘Old yous’. But they didn’t understand, you can’t be replaced. So, they gave me the next best thing. ‘Fake yous’. Those ‘Fake yous’ don’t seem to like sticking around me, they’re fiercely independent and have a mind of their own. If I go one way, they go another. After a few movements they migrate, and I often find them around my neck. ‘To hell with ‘yous’ I say. So if I can’t be with you, I don’t want to be with any one at all. So I go ‘you-less’. Going ‘You-less’ makes me feel like a kid again. It’s like we’re back to where we were before you started teasing the boys. Oh, and those boys are old men now, they still like ‘Big yous’ which sometimes makes me feel small. But life goes on, with or without you, Love, From the rest of you

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Ritual Intaglio-Mezzotint by Beryl Markowitz

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Statistical Echo: Global Economy Conference by Jannett Highfill Everything is fifty percent too large— desks and chairs designed for fifty-year old students, nineteenth-century ceiling public-architecture high. Throat-clearing creates echoes in a concrete canyon. Foot shuffling crescendos into ominous music. A booming voice sounds from the valley of the auditorium. The audience drawn from every grapefruit section of the globe is glacially polite, heroically restrained. Those who study the economy are exempt from nothing. The man in front of me has a son out of college two years without a job—his wife let it slip at last night’s reception. Thirty-six percent of us have unemployed adult children. I also heard that money was the acid in the keynote speaker’s divorce, as it was for eighty-six percent of the fifty-three percent of us single, over forty, and bitter. The global economy does not credit talk about itself however technically exact or statistically significant. We’re feeling small. We’re talking to ourselves.

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Young Love with Figs and Dangling Participles by Frank H. Coons We were younger then, sped along Highway 1 with adolescent disregard, eating Kadota figs we bought in zip-lock bags from the grizzled man just south of Mendocino. This was before the apocalypse of sins that comprises marriage, before we learned to duck and cover, before we pushed so much, each other’s buttons. We ate Kadota figs with abandon. Skin, a mint-green scrim covering chocolate jam, pinpoint seeds popping all the way to Eureka, the Pacific swallowing without a hiss, the sun. Even the tide, oldest continuously moving thing on earth, seemed new. We walked through pink-eyed roses to the headland’s edge, peered into the long now of the ocean, lit by our very own moon. We configured our future by the light of it. We finished the figs and started on each other.

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Joshie Cheers with His Team by Charles Harper Webb when the third baseman makes a diving grab—when the pitcher blows batters away— when the catcher tightropes the ball over the fence. But he loves best when, ten feet from first, the coach’s son trips on his own shoelaces, slides on his face, gets tagged out to end the inning, and leaves the field, eyes full of dust, blood, tears. He’s tried smiling, smacking his glove when Coach assigns positions. He’s scowled and slammed his hat onto the bench. Always, the effect is of a gnat attacking the windshield of a speeding truck. Always, he gets one half-inning per game, exiled to another time zone in right field, or—game out of reach—a quick walk to the plate, three strikes, and down. The coach is miles of snow and freezing wind. Joshie’s dad, self-exiled from the rest, stands alone at the snack bar, his son’s sins—what were they?— falling, fouling him.

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Don’t Bite Your Nails by Candice Floran “Thomas, get down here now! Your breakfast is getting cold!” Thomas’s mother yelled from the bottom of the stairs. Thomas ran downstairs half-dressed, uncombed hair, with one shoe on and sat next to his perfectly primped older sister Kira at the table. “Thomas, you’re 11 years old, you should know by now how to dress yourself for school,” his mother said with an aggravated sigh. “I know, I know, but mom this math test today- I’m just not ready,” Thomas said chewing on his stubby nails. “Eat your food honey, you’ll be fine,” she said pushing his plate of eggs and bacon closer to him. “I can’t eat, I’m not hungry,” he said pushing it back away. Kira rolled her eyes at the drama as she admired her pink sparkled nails. “You’re not hungry because you’ve already filled up on fingernails!” his mother said getting the hot sauce out of the cupboard. “No, no, please no! I promise I’ll stop biting my nails, just no more hot sauce!” “Thomas Anderson, this is your last chance. If I see you biting your fingernails again, I’ll soak them in hot sauce.” Kira leaned over her plate whispering to Thomas, “Did you know that your stomach isn’t strong enough to digest nails? My friend Sara had a cousin who would constantly bite his nails and he never pooped them out. Every single one of them collected in his stomach until they formed one HUGE nail and once it got big enough, it came alive inside of him, in search of its main food source- nails! And, once it didn’t get what it wanted it began eating its way through his stomach until it could roam free on its own, attacking everyone in its path, eating their nails.” “Kira! Leave your brother alone!” her mom snapped. “Now both of you get to the bus before it leaves without you again. And Thomas, brush your hair!”

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Thomas sat next to his science lab partner Jessie, in a relief after math class. “Glad that’s over and done with,” he said aloud to himself. He closed his eyes and started drifting when he was startled by a loud growling sound. He shot straight up in his chair with eyes wide open scaring Jessie. “What the heck you weirdo,” Jessie said annoyed picking up their homework he’d knocked over. “What was that?” Thomas asked her in confusion. “What was what?” she replied with a cross expression. “Sleeping in class again Mr. Anderson…” Mr. Tanner said dropping a pink slip in front of Thomas and walking away. “Ugh! Detention again, mom’s going to kill me!” Just then he heard it again- growling. It sounded like an angry beast. He quickly looked around the room at his classmates but no one else seemed to hear it. He looked over at Jessie adjusting the focus on their microscope noticing her long unkempt fingernails. Then he heard it again, this time realizing that the growling was coming from inside his stomach. Jessie started tapping her nails on the desk impatiently staring at Thomas, “Hello? Are you listening to me? Mr. Tanner wants us to label all the parts of the amoeba before class is over and I am not failing this because of you!” But Thomas couldn’t hear her. All he could hear was the hungry growl from inside him as he stared at her nails, licking his lips. What if Kira was right? What if he did have a monster nail growing inside him and now it was alive and hungry? Thomas looked down at his swollen red fingers with nothing left to gnaw at then looked again at Jessie’s nails and all of a sudden all he could think about was the satisfaction of pulling her nails from her fingers and swallowing them whole! He had to get out of there before he did anything stupid. Grabbing his backpack in a hurry he knocked over his chair and ran out of the room without looking back at Mr. Tanner who was yelling at him. He had to get out of there before the bell rang and the nails of his schoolmates surrounded him. He ran all the way home, locking the front door behind him, panting in a sweat. “Ok, let’s think about this logically. Your stomach is

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growling because you’re hungry. There is no monster inside of you,” he said trying to convince himself. “You’re stressed out, you didn’t eat any breakfast and hardly any lunch. You are just hungry.” He made his way into the kitchen rummaging for something to eat. He loaded the counter with anything he could find: Froot Loops, beef jerky, tuna fish, mint ice cream, Doritos, hard boiled eggs, and hot fudge. He started shoving everything into his mouth but nothing seemed to soothe his hunger. Then he heard the garage door opening, his mom was home. “Oh no, what am I going to do? What if I can’t control my urge for fingernails around my mom and I attack her?” Thomas ran upstairs to his room just as his mom walked inside the house. “I’ll hide out here as long as I can until I can figure this out,” he thought to himself. He could hear his mom yelling at him from inside the kitchen, “Thomas what did you do to my kitchen!” Then he heard her coming up the stairs. “Thomas,” she said pounding on the door. “Get out here now and clean up your mess. I can’t believe you did that!” “Um, I can’t mom,” Thomas said nervously. “What? Why not?” his mom replied disgruntled. Thomas thought quickly, “I don’t feel so good. I think I got that stomach flu that’s been going around.” “Thomas, if you’re lying to me…” “I’m not. I really don’t feel good” “Well let me in at least so I can check your temperature,” she replied a little more relaxed. “Please mom, I just want to go to sleep right now. I’ll be ok, I’m just really tired.” “Fine. But if you need anything just call me,” and she walked away and back down the stairs. Thomas lay down on his bed squeezing his eyes shut. “Maybe if I sleep through the night I’ll wake up feeling better. This is all in my head. Maybe I am just sick and need to sleep it off.” These thoughts went through his head as he dozed off. It seemed he had just closed his eyes when he awoke to his stomach growling again and this time it was painful. “Ow!” he screamed as he clenched his stomach. His room was pitch black now except for the

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clock on his nightstand that glowed 2:17 am. Sweat covered his body as he shivered trying to pull his blankets over himself. He was in so much pain! It felt like something was ripping through his stomach! Then he remembered what Kira said and he sat up in bed and turned the light on his nightstand on. This was real. There really was a monster nail inside him and because he didn’t feed it nails it was eating its way through his stomach! Thomas tried to call out for help but his throat closed in fear as he felt the pain weaken him. He looked down and saw something moving from under his shirt. Slowly pulling his shirt up he saw something pushing on his belly button- it was trying to find its way out of him. Quickly he pulled his bare foot up to his mouth and started biting his toenails, swallowing them whole in hopes of satisfying the monster, but it was too late. The nail monster ripped its way through Thomas’s belly button growling and hissing! It was as large as an elephant’s toe with the body of a prickly snow crab, dripping in blood. With four tiny fingernail feet, it turned towards Thomas on his stomach and he could feel its open mouth breathing on his skin. With a long scissor-like tongue it lapped up the blood from itself then refocused its attention on Thomas with its glowing white eyes. “What do you want from me?” Thomas mumbled. The creature turned away focusing on Thomas’s toenails. It jumped onto Thomas’s knees digging its sharp toes into him as it landed. Blood squirted out of both his knees and he could hear the monster chuckle with delight. Then it jumped to Thomas’s feet engorging his toes into its mouth, ripping his nails from his skin. Thomas cried out in pain as he watched his toenails rippling down the monsters transparent spine, “No! Please stop!” But the monster didn’t stop until it was finished leaving Thomas with bloody stumps for toes. Still hungry, the creature jumped off the bed and headed towards the bedroom door. “No stop! Please, I’ll feed you more nails, I promise! Just don’t hurt anyone else,” Thomas begged. The creature stopped and turned towards Thomas glaring. “Please, just leave everyone else alone and I’ll make sure you’re fed,” Thomas pleaded still. The monster listened as it moved closer to Thomas.

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“I will collect as many nails as I can find, every day, as many as you need. I’ll even clip my dogs and cats nails for you.” The monster jumped back on the bed next to Thomas. “Please. Let me take care of you, just don’t hurt anyone else.” Walking backwards to the bottom corner of Thomas’s bed, Thomas begged one last time, “Please. I promise I’ll take care of you.” It jumped down from the bed making its way into the corner of Thomas’s closet burrowing its way under a pile of dirty clothes. As the sun came up Thomas could hear the growling from inside the closet and he knew he had to feed the nail monster soon or it would attack his entire family. “I’ll be back with food for you,” he whispered to the monster and it rustled under the clothes. Thomas crouched over holding his stomach and walked on his heels down the stairs to where his pets slept. He took the nail clippers from the drawer and clipped his dogs and cats nails as fast as he could, collecting the clippings into a small shallow bowl. Trying not to make the stairs creak, Thomas made his way back up to his room. With his hands shaking, he set the bowl of nails down close to the pile of clothes then quickly backed up. He watched in horror as the monster’s tongue crept out from under the clothes, sniffing its way to the nails. After ravishing its meal it slipped back under the clothes back into silence. Thomas knew from that moment on that he would have to feed this creature every day for the rest of his life in order to keep everyone safe. And from that day forward Thomas was in constant search for any kind of nail he could find just to keep the nail monster satisfied.

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The Dream Eaters by Cynthia West Rabbits, grey under twigs, quick as dusk, race the new moon west, vanish in shadow, fur paws and black-tipped ears. Born of starlight in the arroyo, they grow overnight. By morning, fat from eating dreams, they tumble in the parking lot, eyes bright from running. Rabbits stand, one on another, forming a bridge to the moon. When it swells to fullness their faces join its smile. Revolving like a ferris wheel, they circle from mind to mind, giving back the dreams they have shined and polished.

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Poem for a Morning by Darryl Williams I read the poem again, it meant more in the morning light. Jumbled words, jumbled treasures falling from the closet in a heap: discarded toys, loose change, forgotten memories, unfulfilled dreams. Old photographs, loved ones fade into grayness that is dimly lit. With new resolve I try to gather up the clutter, organize it into tidy piles or boxes. But it resists. There was time for that before, when spring winds beckoned, summer idylls distracted. Now the jumble lies before me as I raise each object to my eye and see only a reflection.

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Soul Soirée by Julie Yowell I live in such a remote location that at times, I can hear my own heartbeat. There are no neighbors to push lawn mowers, chop hedge clippers or holler for their children. There are also no electric or phone lines. When I first moved to this rustic cabin in the woods, I called the local phone company to check on having a line installed. It took a month for a guy to come out and survey the situation, or maybe it took him a month just to make it up through the minefields of enormous boulders and deep ruts that comprise the road to the cabin. The shocking quote finally came in at $70,000. Since I didn’t have seventy grand in my back pocket, I checked on cell phone coverage, and found that Verizon had an analogue line that would (sort of) give me a connection. (This was when cell phones were quite new and very expensive. I only knew one other person who had a cell phone at that time.) Eventually, I found a spot in my house where, if I didn’t move my head, I could occasionally make and receive calls. In March of 2008, Verizon shut down this analogue line, but I could call my friends and family from Santa Fe, where I worked. Everyone knew to contact me during certain hours. In late July of that same year, my sister rang me at work on a Friday afternoon. “Dad’s sick, he’s had a cold or the flu or something. I’m driving down to Ruidoso tonight to help out. Do you want to come along?” Unfortunately, I had a bad cold myself, so I asked her to contact me early the next week to let me know how he was doing. I went home and went to bed. Early Sunday morning, I had a dream. In a cloud of dark fog, my Uncle Edward, who’d died the year before, floated down on a golden throne. The fog curled around his feet, and he grinned. “Come on in,” he said, “Your dad’s here.” I laughed. “Dad can’t be there, Uncle, you’re dead. He smiled so sweetly at me, nodded and pointed over his shoulder. “Oh, he’s here, alright.” I saw my father, wearing his suede jacket, the one he saved for special occasions. He sat next to his sister, Winona, who’d passed away a

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few years before. They waved from a huge round table with balloons and streamers hanging above it. Decorated cakes, a roasted turkey, fruits and vegetables were arranged on the table. A band played lovely classical music that I did not recognize. (Someday I must ask him what the music was, since it was beautiful.) Other people danced or moved around in the foggy background. My father and Aunt smiled at me and waved me over to the table. I backed away, startled. This was one party I was afraid to attend. I woke up with a start, and just knew my father had died. How could it be? He only had a cold…could a cold have killed him? I realized my family had tried to contact me, but could not get through. I didn’t want to call them at two o’clock in the morning, but as soon as it was light, I drove the eight miles to the nearest point where I could get a connection on my phone and punched in the number. My sister answered the phone. “Hi, Julie, mom wants to tell you this.” She handed the phone to my mother. “Are you sitting down?” she asked. “Yes, I’m sitting in my car, but I already know what you’re going to tell me.” “I figured you did,” she said. I have a reputation in my family for conversing with ghosts. My father’s kidneys shut down and he’d passed away in the emergency room Saturday evening. My mother, sister and brother were with him. I often wonder what he would’ve told me if I’d joined the celebration. I wish I’d done so, as scary as it might’ve been. I miss my father so much, but this dream is a confirmation for me that there is an afterlife, and that someday, they’ll be throwing a party for me. Maybe I can ask the band to play that classical piece.

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She Tells You by Nicelle Davis For my 13th birthday, I bought a lock to keep my father out.

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Just Looking At It by Kenneth P. Gurney Dora gave me a reddish maple leaf to act as a talisman against loneliness. She took away the scotch I use as a crutch and I did not fall down. Dora played for me Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, then told me some of my genes traced back to the ancient titans. Dora tucked in my wallet a syllable not used in English. She understood exactly the thrashers’ footsteps and donated to me an empty snail’s shell. Dora received from me a new outlook that she said shone like a charged bulb: a bulb of creative and inventive ideas that know not the inside of a lonely box. A box now filled with a maple leaf, a song, an old mythology and a snail’s opalescent shell.

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Unexpected Loss by Amanda Fresquez I close my eyes to release the tears that roll down my face full of makeup. I overdressed my cheekbones with blush as I have been doing since the tragic event occurred. Grandma Maylou: she was my life saver. The one I ran to when I lacked wisdom. “She is now my past,” I try to convince myself. I can’t breathe; can’t eat. I can’t move without feeling as if my head is going to roll off my shoulders. I ache in places I didn’t even recognize before. This is me and she wasn’t even someone I was used to seeing or hearing from every day; at least not now since I have grown. On the day of the funeral, I stared at grandpa through his glasses during the moments he sat quietly to himself in the corner of his living room. His face was thin due to lack of nourishment. He looked exhausted and his eyebrows were raised in the middle and fell at the ends; he looked lonely. “I feel lost. I feel so lost,” he said. I worry every moment. How is he going to be now that she is gone? She did everything for him. He continued, “I prayed every day, every day. If she was going to suffer, take her now, Lord. I didn’t want to see her suffering and He took her. He did. And now, she’s with the Good Lord.” For the first time, I see Grandpa weak. He is not laughing or entertaining us anymore. I visited each time I had the chance and I know that if I lived closer, I would have seen her more. I had gone out of my way to visit several times before and even lived with them for a period of time after my divorce. I realize now that Grandma stopped calling me in the past year and my visits were not frequent as desired. Time got away from us. ‘I’ll visit tomorrow.’ ‘I’ll call her tonight.’

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‘When she gets better, I’ll go join her for breakfast.’ Those times never came. My heart is empty and the core within it is now chewed up with all the memories of procrastination. My Mama was close to her. Each morning I woke as a child, mama was up the hill helping her make breakfast. Every evening when Mama got off work, I never saw her, just heard the back door slam as she ran up to visit. Mama is still a loyal daughter. She is the daughter any mother and father would love to have. She has always had trouble showing her love for us as her children, but Grandma Maylou would remind me that Mama cared. I crawl to the mirror with my reflection staring back at me. Grandma Maylou always loved my dark complexion. My older brother and sister would say I was adopted, teased me for being so different compared to them with the light skin and dark brown hair. I picked at my skin, stared for hours at my arms wondering where this came from. I once got a hold of a razor to shave. I was about nine years of age. I cut so deep uncovering the white underneath. Excited about finding my Spanish color, I was surprised to see blood fill in that area. I wasn’t meant to be white, no matter how much I desired to fit in. Grandma Maylou comforted me telling me, I looked just like my daddy. She said she was hoping for a child my color and was proud to call me her favorite granddaughter because of it. This makeup on my face is what she wanted, but I only wear it now. When I would visit she would call me to follow her to the medicine cabinet. She would turn around, surprising me with a brush on my face, brightening up my cheeks. “You look pale, Manda. You have such beautiful skin, but don’t brighten it up with color.” “Fine, Grandma. I’ll do it.” “Okay, there is lipstick in there on the side. You better put that on too.” She made me laugh each time she tried to doll me up. All her granddaughters would run at the sight of a hair brush. My cousins along with my sisters pushed me toward her as they ran to hide under the bed in the spare bedroom. I gave in to her grooming, because I knew she would

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catch us all eventually. “It’s for your own good. It’s important to take care of yourself, because when you get big nobody else will,” she reminded me as she pulled the brush through my hair. I laugh now as a tear frames my lips. She was always prepared, carrying a jewelry box filled with earrings. If I didn’t have any on, she would force in a new pair, leaving me in pain and with bloody earlobes. She had such strong hands. I remember asking her for a massage. The next day, I would have bruises of her fingerprints on my back. It felt so good, but it hurt at the same time. She smiled at the sight of anybody. Even with negative energy in the room, she stayed happy. Her hearing grew faint, but it didn’t bother her. She smiled and nodded her head, believing everybody who talked to her said something kind. When I wanted to give up out of loneliness and depression, her words stuck with me and days went on as I slowly got better. It was her words that brought me back to life. My son Jeremiah was born with a heart problem and had to be operated on twice before he turned six months. I wanted to run away, but she refused to see me falter. “Don’t give up, Manda. Life is too short to hold on to the bad. You have to just move forward, you just have to.” Now I scratch at the mirror, but my fingers are numb. I scream as loudly as I can and hear nothing. Where is she now? I yell, “I want to give up!” She’s not coming back just to comfort me. If I finally do give up, who will be there to put me back together? I look around my room. The TV sits in the corner and fancy pillows cover my bed designed to her liking. I had planned for her to visit: “After this is all done, you are coming to my new place and we are going to have a girls’ night.” She lay on the bed as we gathered around her to wish her luck on her open heart surgery. “Did you get your new place, Manda?” “Yes I did Grandma. Are you proud of me?” “Yes.”

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“So is it a date? Can we plan a girls’ night?” “Is Jeremiah doing okay?” “He is, yes. We are all doing well. Me and Jeremiah are with you through all of this, okay?” “Is Jeremiah here?” “No, he’s not. He’s with his other Grandma right now, but we are with you all the way. You are going to see him once all of this is over.” “Okay, Manda.” “So, can we do a girls’ night?” I turned to mom, “Did she not hear me? Mom, can she not hear me?” I know now why she didn’t answer. I hear her laugh and feel her positive energy, yet mentally I cannot give up fighting for her. She is not here, but I continue to fight. I want to pull all my hair out, but she liked my hair. I held in my tears as long as I could, because she stayed smiling until the end. I stare down to my hair that frame my shoulders and smile: Her words of wisdom repeat in my mind, “Death is a part of life. None of us wants to die, but we have to accept it no matter what.”

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Nick’s Lunch Photograph by Beryl Markowitz

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Family Tree by Anne Hosansky Bits and pieces of myself were scattered on my ex-husband’s front steps. I ask Dr. Rubin – my latest therapist - what that dream means. “What does it mean to you?” he recites. I could have saved a hundred and ten dollars by asking the reflection in my mirror, “Does the dream mean my life (read “love life”) is in fragments?” But she’d just say, How are we going to put ourself together? Humpty Dumpty’s wife had a great fall. All the king’s horses and macho men couldn’t put her together again. My previous therapist hardly spoke in five years. Too bad he didn’t charge by the word. Dr. Rubin, on the other hand, actually comes up with a suggestion. More like a homework assignment. I’m to create a family tree. Apparently that’s supposed to enable me to get out of “dead-end” relationships in time. “In time for what?” I ask. No answer, of course. I draw a tree, kindergarten style, then stare blankly at my compulsively neat desk. “The desk isn’t compulsive, you are,” Grandpa would say. “Your antecedents are wrong.” Sure are. GRANDPA, I print in royal purple inside a circle on the top branch. Born in London. (“My grandparents are British,” I used to brag in high school, as though that made me special.) Editor. Married. Five children. Emigrated to the United States. Died at the age of seventy. Okay, Doctor, what does that tell you about him? Or me? “Bare facts don’t tell you what your ancestors were really like, do they?” I ask Matt, the guy I’ve started dating. “Honey, anything that sheds light on your hang-ups would be a help.” “What is that supposed to mean?” I bite down on a pretzel from the inadequate nibbles in front of us.

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“You always get defensive.” I glare at him across the small table, but it’s so dim in this cocktail lounge he probably couldn’t decipher my look even if he wanted to. He’s having his third vodka. I’ve switched to club soda, swilling it through a straw. I wave the straw at him. Drops of seltzer splash on the black marble table, reflecting a memory. “My grandfather counted the straws.” Matt’s gaze has veered toward the redhead sitting at the bar in a dress cut down to her navel. “It was when I was about four years old,” I say, loud enough to lasso his wandering attention. “Grandpa came into the kitchen carrying a bag of groceries, put it on the table and took out a box of straws. ‘What number is this?’ he asked, pointing to the numbers on the box. I managed to read ‘one, zero, zero.’ “‘Very good,’ he said. ‘But how do we know there are 100?’ Then he turned the box upside down and started counting.” “What a dumb thing to do,” Matt said. “You have to figure the cost in terms of your time and energy.” Matt’s an efficiency expert. “And then,” he said, eyeing the redhead, “to find out there were 100 after all, because machines don’t make mistakes. Right?” “Wrong. There were ninety-nine!” I feel my grandfather’s triumph on my face. “’One short!’ he called out to my grandmother. ‘Multiply that missing straw by millions of boxes and see how those money-grubbing Yankees are cheating us.’” “The question is, how did the old geezer get the straws back into the box?” Matt’s got that bored voice that makes me feel dismissed. “That’s not the point! And don’t talk about him that way.” “Don’t make a federal case out of this.” He and the redhead are giving each other that “you’re hot,” look I’ve never been able to manage. “The point is my grandfather taught me not to be too trusting about anything – or anyone.” “That’s a hell of a legacy, baby.” I look at the neon EXIT sign. Leave first before the bloke does, luv.

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That’s what the bartender in the London pub told me, while I wept into my Guinness Stout. “He’s all yours,” I tell the redhead as I head past her. The sign reads EMERGENCY EXIT OPENING WILL SET OFF AN ALARM. I open it. GRANDMA, I letter neatly in a circle on the next branch. Not the plump aproned lady of commercials. She was regal and “exceedingly proper,” everyone said. I wish I’d put that on her tombstone. Here she properly lies or something. Actually, she had herself cremated. “That’s tidier,” she said, when she was planning her funeral. I had the honor of being her favorite grandchild. But that meant I always had to look ”presentable” in order to merit her approval. Once I flaunted my adolescent rebellion by wearing black tights. “I can’t say I approve of those things on your legs,” she said. I never wore them again. In front of her, that is. When Grandma was eighty she was standing on a stepladder to hang the curtains she’d just washed and ironed. She lost her balance and fell, fracturing her hip. Summoned by a neighbor, my mother and I rushed over. Grandma was lying on the carpet bent at a crazy angle, the only untidy thing in the room. While we were waiting for the ambulance, she said through gritted teeth, “Towels… Basket... Fold.” Intimidated by her parent as always, my mother fumbled at the towels. But a voice came from the floor. “Fold… left... to right!” Carter would have appreciated Grandma. He’s the new guy in my life. He’s real neat, not meaning the current idiom but intimidatingly tidy. I bet his towels are folded! “My grandmother was a poster child for Perfectionism,” I tell him, as we mix and match in a Chinese restaurant. “No wonder I drive myself crazy doing 150 revisions of everything I write.” “It’s self-indulgent to blame your family,” he says. “Make a list of the good genes you inherited, side by side with your grievances.” Carter is a

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geneticist. “Take one from Column A and two from Column B?” My laugh comes out more sour than sweet. “I must say I’m surprised at your immature attitude.” “You don’t seem to find me so immature in bed,” I mutter. I mean, I don’t have to listen to patronizing sermons just because I’m sleeping with him. Or do I? The EXIT sign’s in Chinese symbols. My tree looks lopsided. That’s what Jim points out when I make the mistake of showing it to him. He believes “balance” is the secret to a happy whatever. We met in a yoga class. But he’s right about the tree being lopsided. Both faces are from my mother’s side of the family. “How come you left out your father’s parents?” Jim asks, as we share a pizza in the local Italian restaurant. “Dad refused to discuss his father,” I mumble between strands of rubbery cheese. “His mother, on the other hand, was the saint in Daddy’s life. He breathed her name as if she were Mother Teresa. Obviously I could never live up to Dad’s exalted opinion of the Perfect – and Pure – woman. But when I asked Dad about his father he said, ‘You don’t need to know.’ Once his sister let slip that their parents lived in the same house without speaking to each other for twenty years! No wonder I….” “I know,” Jim says, holding up a slice of pizza to flag STOP. “No wonder you hold on to your anger. How many times have I warned you about that?” “You think you know me so well, don’t you?” “See how quick you are to flare up? Careful, dear, men don’t like aggressive women.” “Love doesn’t bloom in male passive aggressiveness either!” “You’re mixing your metaphors.” Jim’s an English teacher. “How many times do I have to tell you….?” “Just flunk me,” I say, heading for the revolving door. DAD. I put him in the next circle, wondering if he’d object to hanging on the family tree. An insurance salesman. Had wanted to be in

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the army. Poor eyesight kept him out. A bitter man, one disappointment after another, including me for being born without the hoped-for appendage. I show my tree to Dr. Rubin. See what a good girl I am? I did your (stupid) assignment. “Do you realize you printed his name in heavy black ink?” he asks. “Maybe because my father disapproved of me,” I say, as if this hasn’t come up a million times. “Perhaps you deliberately provoked his rejection.” Isn’t that like the rape victim being told she’s the culprit because she was on the wrong side of the street? My father once took me to a kiddie matinee at the local movie theatre. Between shows they gave out prizes to everyone who had the winning number on the ticket. Dad shouted, “We have it!” and pulled me up to the stage. There was a doll that cried Mama. “We want the football,” Dad told the MC. “This is quite a prize,” he said, carrying the football home like a trophy. ”I’m going to teach you to throw like a boy.” “I wanted the doll,” I cried. He threw the football away. “I’ve tried all my life to get my father’s love,” I tell Victor as we guzzle red wine in his car (fortunately parked.) He’s the good-looking guy I met in a singles club. Except he isn’t single. I didn’t know that until it was too late to put the brakes on – and I don’t mean the car brakes. He says he’s going to ask for a divorce, but I’ve heard that line in too many movies. Dr. Know-It-All (aka Rubin) says I should think about why I always find unacceptable men. Are there any other kind? Anyway, since Victor’s still got a wife we devise ways to be invisible. “Let’s not waste time talking,” he says. “I have to get home early, my wife’s acting suspicious.” “I just realized something.” “You forgot to take your pill?” “No! I realize that the reason I’m attracted to you is because – like

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my father – you represent the unavailable man.” “Let’s skip that two-bit analysis,” he says, pushing my skirt up. “What the hell are you crying about?” he asks, four and a half minutes later. The car door isn’t locked. The name I carefully dangle from the next branch is MOTHER. “She was jealous of me,” I tell Gordon as we nibble on protein bars in the crowded subway. I met him in a writers’ group. When he told me that my story was only 50% garbage, I fell in love – again. A writer, how wonderful! He’d understand my frustrated (and frustrating) mother. Gordon’s into being in crowds, which is why we’re in the subway. He says it’s necessary to “keep a finger on the pulse of the common people” for the sake of his novel. The one he’s been writing for the past fourteen years. “That’s such a mundane plot, mother jealous of budding daughter,” he shouts into my ear over the roar of the train. “Jealous,” I shout back. “that I’m a writer. That’s what she’d wanted to be.” “Are you planning to write a Mommie Dearest? That sells if you’re into that type of crass best seller.” “You don’t understand…” The train jolts to a stop, throwing me into Gordon’s arms. “It’s better if you hold on to the pole,” he says. “I have a writing block because of my mother,” I screech – then realize everyone can hear because the motor’s off. A row of hostile matronly faces stares back at me. “You’re very competitive,” says Gordon, who spent the whole dinner talking about the fourth chapter of his book. He’s writing it in longhand, because he says that’s “more artistic,” but he wants me to scan the entire manuscript into my computer. I said I don’t have time, but he reminded me Tolstoy’s wife copied all his books. “I’m not Russian,” I said. The train jolts forward, throwing me off-balance. A man who looks too benign to be my type steadies me. Gordon glares at me. “Why do you always have to be the center of

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attention?” “We have switching problems,” the loudspeaker blares. “Sure do,” I mutter – eyeing the emergency cord. Dear Dr. Rubin, I’m enclosing a family tree. It’s sketchy but the best I can do. I won’t be seeing you again. Thanks for enabling me to read the EXIT sign!

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On my way away by Francine Witte from you, an Iowa cornfield and I passed each other. Me, in my beat-up Chevy, heading for the coast, and the cornfield stuck on its earthplate. I watched the cornstalks nodding in the just-dusk breeze. You really were an asshole, they were saying, or maybe that’s what I wanted to hear. It was late June, and elsewhere, the bees were sticky with flowersex, working the pistils of hopeful roses that might have been wishing the bees would stay the night. I kept moving, and by the time I made it to Cali, I had eaten an entire country. I thought of you way back east, staring at the ghost me I left behind, the only picture of you I would keep from now on, the one where finally you are the thing standing still.

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Hero Socks by Robyn Hunt I am seven. I have my special socks on. On the stretchy front of them is a Superman shield, gold diamond with the first letter of my name in red in the middle. People will notice me as I walk toward them. I will not fold under into nighttime prayer or Daddy’s hidden things under the bed. My grandfather holds my hand instead. Everything is calm as we walk through bright blue sky into this bookstore. In the front room there is an L shape of metal chairs full of silent people. They are listening to a red headed woman wearing glasses. She is reading to them from a small computer, which is funny because it isn’t a book. I don’t know what she is reading. I look at her quickly as we walk past the little stage where she stands. I count the three wooden steps up to her microphone. She stops reading to answer questions and moves her hands with their palms up like they are flying softly. Like the kind of prayers I would make when no one was watching. She looks like I might look when I am old. She wears a yellow shirt like a large silk scarf with black designs that pillow her breasts and tummy. She isn’t skinny like me but people seem to like what she is saying. She isn’t beautiful either but she must be important because these people are here to hear her. I think she might be talking about God or Jesus but it’s different than what I know as knees on the hard floor. Thorns and skin. My grandfather is going to buy us hot chocolate. The man at the counter says he can give us lemonade or water or we can come back after the curly haired woman is finished reading. The hot steam is too noisy. The reader’s voice is loud, then soft. She is explaining that someone in her story is beating a hand against a desk. I squeeze

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my grandfather’s hand. He squeezes back but I don’t think he is paying attention to why. I don’t mind waiting. I am used to it. I am excited to sit on the floor in the other room. A room full of bookshelves that go up to the ceiling. Anxious to return to the mystery of girls who know where the clues are hidden. I feel free looking up at the photographs of giant horses on the wall. Horses with blonde manes in the wind like the small capes on the back of my hero socks. Tiny red capes that only certain people will see as I glide past them. Safe grip on my grandfather’s hand. One woman notices my hero socks and smiles at me though I don’t look straight back at her. I think she knows when I grow up I will have a story to tell too about escaping.

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Morning After the Sweep by Donald Levering A spokesman for their party jeers at me from a leaf-losing aspen. I’d winced with each result and fled into the frightful story of ravens ganging up on ewes to gorge on newborn sheep. The writer said the birds were souls of murdered pagans who plied the bandits’ game—distract and snatch— pecked out eyes, then heart. Above my book the magpies rally thick as ravens in the story’s lambing time, the boldest perched upon a tattered branch haranguing me. Hearing portent, brooding over changing weather, I fasten all my sweater’s buttons, shudder for our daughters and our sons. after T. Coraghessan Boyle

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My Version by Grey Held There is no suspicious forest with werewolves lurking. No phoenix rising up to begrudge somebody. Just a dog scratching at the door to get out, claw marks deep in the trim of a leaky beach cottage whose floors are skewed, so everything slides away: resentment, blame, family feuds. My version isn’t predicated on a storm front dividing sky into before and after, just one little finger drawing a line on a steamy mirror.

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Portal Photograph by Brian Fishbine

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Chicago by Janice Bruce Hightower The end of motion and the gentle force of air when the car door closed woke me. Opening my eyes to the darkness of night, I nestled closer to my brother and asked, "Mommy, where are we?" Then movement of my mother gave form to the darkness as I saw her reach around from the front seat of the car. I felt Mommy draw the covers up close around my chin, stroke my head and saw her pat my brother Tex, who never stirred. My mother looked old to me then, tho' I now know she was only in her 30s. We were on vacation, headed for Chicago. I turned slightly and looked up - out the rear window of that '49 Ford - saw no trees, no buildings, but then a light just coming on that said "NO Vacancy". Beyond that newly illuminated sign were millions of stars. More stars were in Indiana than we had in DC. The car door opened, my father slipped in behind the wheel, and my mother's voice sounded small and sad, like she had done something wrong. But all she said was my father's name - "Bill." He answered "This place does not look so good: I want to try a little further down the road." The car engine whirred, the light saying "NO" slid to the edge of the rear window, and then out of sight. Mommy and Daddy didn't talk, or else I fell back to sleep, but soon again Daddy was getting back in the car. He said in a voice meant to be a whisper, but was full and strong, "The bastard would not answer me just stood there staring at me with a smirk on his stupid face. I asked twice about the cost of his damn rooms and he just grinned and spit tobacco." My mother put her arm up across the back of the seat and squeezed Daddy's shoulder. I was always surprised how she seemed to talk to him without words. The next time I woke up, Daddy was carrying me. I could see Mommy walking ahead with a small suitcase in one hand, and Tex reaching up holding her other hand. We went what seemed a long way

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down a path through some trees before Mommy put down the suitcase and produced a key with a large wooden tag on it. She opened the door of a small wooden building, reached inside, and rubbed her hand up and down the wall. Nothing happened. "Bill, I can't find a switch," she said over her shoulder. With me still in his arms, Daddy eased past Mommy and Tex into the darkest place I had ever been. It smelled like a place where old people live: where air didn't move. Once inside, Daddy slid one foot out in front of the other so as not to trip in the darkened space. Suddenly, I felt something hairy brush my cheek. I let out a squeal and begin twisting, squirming, fighting the monster that had attacked me in the dark. My father struggled not to drop me as the thing that brushed my face wound its tentacles around us both. Mommy was calling from just outside the door, "What's wrong? Are you O.K.? What's happening?" I kept twisting and squealing. Daddy, with a free hand, swung violently against the monster. Suddenly glare replaced the darkness, revealing what had ensnared us - a dingy string attached to a single light bulb swaying from the center of the ceiling. In that first dim light Mommy's face went from round, with eyes and mouth shaped like O's, to a nice gentle upward curve of a smile. But her smile did not last. Her eyes went past me and Daddy in the middle of the floor, tangled in that light bulb string. She saw what we all saw: one big bed that looked like an inverted camel, its center sagging almost to the floor, a wooden box meant to be a nightstand, an old radio on top of it with a place for coins attached, and an old stuffed chair with stains on the seat. That was it, except for a narrow opening in the wall with a faded flowered sheet hung across it as a door. Mommy's words came fast, trying to ignore our surroundings. "Bill, I'll get these children to bed. You go in there and wash up, then get some sleep." Whenever it seemed like trouble or that Daddy might get real mad, Mommy took charge in her this-is-no-big-deal-everyday-occurrence voice. That's how I could tell there was more to it than just an ugly place. Daddy started to protest that he had paid good money and he would not have his family stay in a place like this. But mama just said "Bill, you

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need the sleep and these babies won't know what it means." Daddy sat me down on the bed and disappeared behind that flowered sheet door. I heard creeks and clanking sounds, then "Honey, this water is brown." Mommy finished tucking us in one side of the camel bed and whispered in my ear, "Now darling, don't you wet this bed tonight. We all have to sleep here together. Just wake me up if you have to go." Nobody seemed to understand that if I was awake I would not pee in the bed. "Bill, I thought you were going to leave that gun at home!" I could hear my mother whispering to my father, who had slipped into bed next to her. "And now that you see where they put us, the only place I could get with good money, aren't you glad I've got it?" Mommy must have been glad ‘cause she didn't say anything. But I decided I better stay wake all night to help Daddy guard against burglars or bad men or whoever it was he needed the gun for. That way I'd be sure not to wet the bed, too. I woke the next morning and everybody else was already out of the bed. And not ‘cause I had wet it either: I hadn't. Mommy was calling me. "We need to get on our way, sleepyhead. Your father and brother have gone to gas up the car. Come here let me wash your face." A few minutes later the car horn was tooting out front. Mommy grabbed up the little suitcase and threw open the cabin door. She looked around that little room, slowly shaking her head. She laughed - just one "Ha-ha!" -then reached for my hand and said, "Come on baby, we are going to Chicago!"

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For Every Accidental Incursion by Susana H. Case When a kitchen pipe worked loose and my apartment flooded, one inch deep, the men brought in drying machines to try to save the floors. The edges of each board warped upward anyway, so the men came back to do the best they could, to sand and lacquer the old oak slats, and I wished I had a machine that could flatten my own sharp edges. Water seeped down to a room below and when those neighbors shrugged, said, don’t worry, we’re repainting anyway, I thought surely they were saints though, months later, they threatened me with violence in a snit about my noisy dog. Two floors down, a generally kind neighbor got some leakage too, less, but made the bigger fuss over what she screamed was your water, a boundary problem, which meant insurance companies, lawyers, deposit money that couldn’t be retrieved. You can never tell what will cause grief once an intrusion finds its target. Water seeks the path of least resistance, as do tears. The damage left after trying to fix the floor causes now and then a sliver stuck into the foot, so I’m careful, still, often a bit awry. Splinters, not the worst incursion, hurt like hell and I’ve heard a woman did die once in Ohio from a bit of wood lodged in her chin. Usually, skin just heals, not sufficient fortress anyway as borders go; if a splinter here and there can’t be managed, then there’s no hope. We are people, not sawed-up trees, I whisper, as I wonder why it took me time to notice your floors, too are splintered, catawampus at their edges.

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Kite Day by Fred Yannantuono Everything’s in flight today, A biplane with its tragicomical message, Boating parties scudding past the superseding clouds, Themselves luffing toward Narragansett, Kites shaped like lanterns or eels Hovering, prevaricating in air, Seagulls swerving endlessly. My money too is flying, And time, we know. Even the fishes fly through their thicker ether In search of prey, pride, lift, Maybe on a good day love. I, though, on a park bench shared with aphids, My antique Schwinn propped beside me On its dubious kickstand, Am flying fastest of all, Straight from a shore I thought I knew To a port I don’t recall. Only the flies on this dead crab claw Are at rest, eating awfully.

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The Hiding by Dennis Trudell I don’t know why the old woman I imagined watching a running man pass her house one night, stop and burrow under a neighbor’s leaf pile, didn’t call out to the cop jogging by ten seconds later, didn’t call 911 after a squad car eased past – but she didn’t. Instead, switched off lights and stayed by the window as the cop on foot passed the direction he had come. And the night was still awhile until those leaves stirred and the man stood, brushed himself off. She would hear nothing on television, read no mention in the newspaper of the chase. The man had seemed in his mid-twenties; she hoped that he hadn’t or wouldn’t hurt somebody. He walked from there out of her life. The leaf pile disappeared soon afterward,

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and she decided to believe she’d dreamed the hiding man. For a year that night was dormant in her. Then another leaf pile appeared; she kept moving at night to her front window. Finally she put on slacks, zipped a jacket, tucked as much hair as she could under her dead husband’s ballcap. Went out, entered the leaves, pulled handfuls over her. Her heart felt like running feet. Only one car passed. Later inside the woman still smelled leaves, bore their slight weight. She felt both proud and deeply foolish.

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Dropping Teeth by Janée J. Baugher Well after she had done it, friends asked had I kept my dog’s baby teeth. No one had told me what to look for. So now, when I read a Mary Oliver poem about her dog, or visit someone who rattles her fido’s tiny canines in a glass jar, I wonder where else I failed. Sure, I was riveted by the self-assuredness of new teeth pushing through clean red gums, but I never considered what made room for that growth, the shards of life like a fence raised over night. And now I’m on my hands and knees about the apartment, searching for the last vestige of Sadie’s puppyhood and things that slip though my fingers. I’ll look for it next time – another cycle of me with a puppy, me staring squarely at her, waiting for tough white things to fall from her mouth like a simple answer.

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The Reader Oil on Canvas by Kat French

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the boundless wheat fields by Dan Sicoli what if she had carried the newspaper that held van gogh’s gift out to the unpleasant dirt and carefully buried it and what if the authorities hadn’t denied passage to the house of light from yellow to dark from shadow to blue would come the bleeding of earth out of paint out of pain and she must have sung of the purity of the bitter class a knife a brush a pittance of tribute sequestered in some dark fold o room of enumeration o vibrant eye o blush heart of resentment the killing is in the oil when the red sun mixes with absinthe and she too learns to set her clothes ablaze

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Celeriac by Stephen Massimilla Artery-twisted on the outside, the torn, blood-draggled glove of a poor ogre’s heart, the most pointlessly neglected vegetable. Bathe this knotted beauty, ancestor of the ancient ways of the earth. Slip the clots of dirt from this tangle of hairy tubules that fed green stalks in the rain. It labored all year to grow, got shovel-cut, hardened into the clenched face of a fist, as if defying Dante with its uncried cry, hunched so long by dust-drunken bulbs in the cellar, unable to recall the sun’s heat on flesh. When this black thing emerged, skypierced, in the winter market, the earth still refused to burn, having turned to stone, like the white meat of this root, all its assertive, refreshing flavor hidden in a monster heart.

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Reiterative by Gary Hardaway There were firsts, surely, somewhere, but chronologies are lost, perhaps among the ashes at Alexandria. But we repeat ourselves, singing variations of our loss, our love, our fear, our cravings, our bewilderment across the arc of human time. Our fundamental stories now were stories in Sumer, Memphis, Athens. The failure of virtue in the warp of fortune. Duplicity of husbands, wives, children. The immeasurable beauty of eyes, lips, skin. We invent little of substance, introduce perhaps a new technique, a scheme for repetition, a flagrant violation of taboo, convention, typography. The blood and bones of audience have differed little since the ice age, despite the superficialities of pigment, fashion, job description. A billion billion stars and yet the universe elects to light another, similar, but never quite the same, illuminating its own dusty bit of dark.

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Stop Light Chatter by Jennifer Anderson My therapist told me to stop the dialogue in my head – silence my mind. I responded by thinking “what are you talking about?” which is exactly what she was talking about. She called it “chatter.” I went home and googled the word. The definition that presented itself was “to talk rapidly in a foolish or purposeless way.” “Isn’t that what thoughts are?” I mused. I sat at the stop light in my car, headed to court in an uncomfortable suit to defend a client against the state’s allegation of driving under the influence. It was hardly past 8:00 a.m., and I saw an old man standing on the corner in front of a rotting adobe wall. I’m not sure where he procured the flask of vodka that the two young policemen standing next to him were slowly pouring onto the concrete. He must have passed out drinking it the night before and awoke that morning, delighted to have some left. I wondered how much he was able to drink before they found him. It seems most societies can be divided into two categories, sober and not sober. I sat watching a convergence of the two. The sober police officers were clearly lecturing the old man, as sober people sometimes do. The man looked only at the vodka. The officers’ words were incomprehensible through the loud music in my car, but their facial expressions and gestures made it easy to imagine what was being said. “This isn’t good for you. Where do you live? You need to get a job – if you had a job, you wouldn’t be drinking this early. If you keep drinking it’s going to kill you.” I’m sure they were not saying it with any sort of pressing urgency, because they already knew the man would not stop drinking until he was dead, which is also why the man was not listening. It was the look in the old man’s eye that told me nothing could get between him and his vodka, not even those sober policemen – he hardly seemed to notice them. I wondered if he recognized how arrogant people were to think that they could simply talk him out of drinking – not

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even God could do that – this was between him and the bottle. If it were that simple, he wouldn’t be homeless – he wouldn’t have lost everything. I opened my glove compartment and pulled out one of nine miniature bottles of vodka, purchased the night before in preparation for the day ahead. I opened it with one hand and dumped it into my warm coffee sitting in the console to my right. The stop light turned green, and the car behind me started to honk. “Screw you asshole,” I thought and lurched forward.

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Dancing with Lennie by Teresa Hommel

Oh my god, I'm in love. I feel it in my gut, I'm bursting with it. I gotta have him. Leonard Bernstein. He's dead, I know that, but I've got a film. Off Youtube. He's in Vienna, conducting Beethoven's Fourth. A tuxedo with tails, a white bow tie. His silver hair flopping on his face. He's in ecstasy, dancing. He's on a tiny, square podium. A little stick of a baton in his hand. Such a smile on his face. Such pleasure. It looks like you-know-what. In public. In front of all those people, men in black tuxes, women in gowns, a sold-out house in those old, formal days. The crystal chandeliers. It was the 1970s. He bends his knees, bounces in time. Leaps in the air. Leans forward, backward. Side to side. His arms. His feet. Everything's moving. The music comes through him, the violins, drums, horns. He's living it. And his face. That's the thing. I'd be lucky if I had that expression on my face once in my life. He's not holding back. Arches his neck, half-closes his eyes. I'm trembling. I could faint. I want to tell everyone! I want congratulations, hugs. But who can I even tell? The music club at the senior center, they got me into this. They asked me to research the Ode to Joy, Beethoven's Ninth, how many minutes it was. Youtube had the Fourth too. I didn't have time to watch, but Leonard Bernstein, he's famous. That's all I knew. My granddaughter downloaded it for me; the next day I started to play it. What a shock! I felt embarrassed; it was too intimate. I turned it off in a hurry. Last month, before New Year, I noticed the file in my Beethoven folder. I clicked on it. As soon as it started I remembered. I felt like a voyeur, but this time I couldn't stop.

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It's been six weeks. I have to have him, three, four times a day. I have to see his face. His expressions. His eyes moving. When the music gets sweet his eyebrows lift in a soft arch. His mouth opens, the corners curve up. He looks like a saint in divine ecstasy, you know those old paintings. Love. Maybe addiction by now. At first I just watched, my own mouth hanging open. Then I began to move with him. Imitate him. Grin. I could feel how stiff my face was, not fluid like his. Then my arms started conducting with him. Now I'm standing, swaying, bouncing, nodding, whipping around toward the violins, the French horns. Pointing, raising my eyebrows. Like him. Every time I watch there's something new. The sweat on his Adam's apple, glistening. It's so physical. I love him.

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Confined Prospector by Jared Valdez I urinate on the bumper of our new sixty thousand dollar SUV. I wish I had chosen Alaskan White. Opaque Green was Emily’s favorite color. Charlie preferred the white too. It is better than the cock-sucking dentist across the street. He got the family package and chose Moon Dust Grey. Fucking Dentist. Excuse me, Oral Surgeon. I finish my evacuation and begin re-filling the tank by drinking the rest of my whiskey pint. The lights are off in our house. Charlie must be watching TV. I walk over to the door. I try to avoid stumbling over the garden hose. I fall, the asphalt scraping the flesh from my palms. I find a half smoked cigarette. It is russet and wrinkled from the rain earlier this week. I pull out my Zippo lighter, light the cigarette and fully inhale. It tastes like the smell of decaying humans sulking in an old age home. I stand up and walk to our front door. I open it carefully so I do not wake up Jackie. I walk through our birch door and firmly close it so it doesn’t latch open. Music from Jackie’s room starts playing. The TV turns off. I closed the door too hard. The house is filled with the aroma of pork roast. Charlie cooked tonight. Damn that Dr. Molder and his issues. I am tired of figuring out what is wrong with his patients. Figure it out for yourself. I could have easily made it home for dinner. I should consider presenting his resignation to the board. I walk to the kitchen. I see five of my faces in the reflection of the hanging cast iron pots. I open the fridge. There are no leftovers. I look in the trash. Charlie has thrown them away. I walk up our winding stairwell in the living room. The door to our room is slightly cracked. I can see Charlie. She is fast asleep. I walk into my study room and sit on my white velvet chair. I look in the drawer of my computer desk for my other flask of whiskey. It is not there. I look behind my copy of ‘As I Lay Dying’ on the book shelf. An empty lighter, one hundred dollars and Jackie’s ultrasound photos are there. No more rye. I put the book back. I look behind the bookshelf. I find a dusty box. I pull out the box and open it. Inside is a dusty, polyester, copper-colored tuxedo. I take it out

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of the box and shake the dust off. I sneeze and almost fall. I take off my blue striped button up shirt and navy blue slacks. I put on the tuxedo. It is just as small on me as the first day I wore it. Jackie was three years old at that time. She told me she loved the color. I told her that’s the reason her mom would hate it. Charlie knew why I got it when she saw the look on Jackie’s face as I walked down the aisle. I leave my study room and walk to the mirror at the top of the stairs. I am surprised I was able to keep a straight face during the wedding ceremony with this awful tuxedo on. If I ever had to run I am sure it would tear off of me completely. There is however something striking about it all. My hair still shines like the mane of a black stallion. That new product lasts awhile. I reach my hand towards the railing of the stairs. I miss the railing and end up at the bottom of the stairs. My tuxedo has turned to rags. I walk outside stripping it off. I place it in the trash. I open my eyes. The alarm clock screams in my ear. It is 5 A.M. I reach over and bash it with my palm till it stops. My tongue sticks to every surface in my dehydrated mouth. The feeling has come back. I must make it to the bathroom. I stumble out of bed. Every muscle in my back and legs aches. After a second of searching the walls of the bathroom for the light, I regurgitate on the granite sink and wood floor. I turn the light on and look into the mirror. Whiskey and beer have stained my shirt like a child’s urinated jeans. My hair has thinned significantly since I last noticed, but my eyes have been this red for almost a week now. I cannot stand my smell. I turn the cold water handle on the faucet and rest my head in the sink so that the cold water freezes my pounding temples. I take a few sips of the water and climb back into bed. My wife Charlie turns but does not wake. I close my eyes and fall back to sleep. Something is slamming the bathroom door. I am awake again. It is now 7 A.M. “Malcolm,” Charlie says. “You did it again. You didn’t even have the courtesy to wipe the sink. Malcolm.” Charlie continues kicking the door. She sobs and then sits down. I get out of bed, put on my slacks, khaki socks and slip on my burgundy leather Italian loafers. I change my shirt and open the door. I look towards the bathroom before I leave. The shower starts. I leave our room

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and go to the kitchen. I open the cabinet and grab a granola bar, whiskey and a coffee cup. Charlie has already made coffee. I pour myself some and add in a couple shots of whiskey. I don’t add sugar. Sugar in the mornings gives me migraines. I walk outside to grab the paper from our front porch. The garbage immigrants already made their trash run. They never come that early. The tuxedo is gone. This neighborhood has really declined since we moved here. The realtor promised they wouldn’t allow more than ten properties sold in our area. Perjurers. I walk back into the house and my daughter Jackie is waiting for me in the kitchen. “Did you eat yet?” I say. “Nothing to eat,” she says. “There are some granola bars left and I think some milk in the fridge.” She looks in the cabinet and takes out the granola box. There are none left. She’s not looking at me anymore. “Do you think I could have a few dollars for lunch?” Jackie asks. “Of course,” I say. I pull out ten dollars. No. I pull out twenty dollars and give it to her. I open the fridge and take out a carton of eggs. “Sit down with me. I will make you an egg. Protein.” “The bus is here,” she says. She takes her backpack and leaves. The door slams. The iron door handles clank against the cedar. I check the door for any blemishes and then look out the window. Jackie is sitting at the end of the driveway. There is no bus. Charlie is walking downstairs. I finish my coffee and put on my tailored doctor’s coat. She clangs dishes into the sink. I walk by her, fill my cup up with water and drink it. “You don’t have to pick up Jackie from school,” Charlie says. “I have an appointment but I just scheduled it for later. I won’t see you till late tonight.” “I was going to switch with Gordon and take the afternoon off,” I say. She takes the keys to her car from the kitchen table and leaves. I open the box of eggs. It is empty. I take my silver flask from the

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bottom drawer and fill it with Kentucky straight bourbon. I look out the kitchen windows. Charlie’s driving out of the driveway. Jackie is with her. I leave the house. It is raining. I sit in the black leathered captain seat of my S.U.V. I take two miniatures of vodka from the glove box. I drink them and toss them out of my window. I start my car and drive to the gas station. A man stands outside of the gas station. He is wearing a fake leather jacket, shorts that reach his ankles, and white sneakers. I hear him tell the woman pumping gas next to me that he is so cold. He asks her for change and she denies him. She never takes her eyes off of the pump. He is making his way over to me. I follow the woman’s lead and stare at my pump. “Excuse me sir,” he says. “I was looking for a ride to the south side of town, bro. Are you heading that way?” “No,” I say. “Do you have any change or a cigarette I could have?” he asks. “Don’t have any. Only use a card. It’s safer,” I say. I show him my Master Card. He turns and leaves. I finish filling up my gas tank and enter my moon dust colored S.U.V. I open my pack of cigarettes, take my Zippo lighter and light one. I inhale and exhale, filling the cabin with smoke. I put my seat belt on, check my mirrors, and turn on my wipers to a proper setting of three. I inhale and exhale once more. The front windshield fogs. I crack open my window. The man in the fake leather jacket is watching me. I wave to him as I drive away. I pull up to the private hospital. The parking lot is expansive. I park in my reserved spot. It is still early yet there are a lot of people here . I look at my phone. I should message Charlie and apologize. I finish my cigarette and toss it out my window. I look into the mirror and wipe the encrusted saliva from the insides of my lips. I unscrew the sterling silver cap of my flask and take two drinks. I cough. I open up the steaming burrito. The smell of microwave bacon, boiled potatoes and powdered eggs turn my stomach. I have a few bites, wrap it back up and toss it on the floor. I exit my car and enter the hospital. The sliding doors streak open like nails on a chalkboard. The two obese secretaries, Mary and Susan, greet me simultaneously. I would have thought they were twin sisters if I didn’t know better.

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They have bangs that curl into their greasy foreheads and they wear a selection of blush that can only be found in the basement of a crossdressing serial killer. I fidget with my pockets and ignore them as I walk past. I enter the break room. The coffee is almost gone but there is still some left over. I pour myself a cup and take out my flask. Doctor Molder enters the room with a permanent grin on his face. A walking, talking, manikin. “Doctor Kemp. I thought that was a zombie walking in for some urgent scare,” Doctor Molder chuckles obviously amused with himself . He slaps me on the shoulder. I put my flask back into my jacket pocket. He does not see it. “I have been waiting to hear back from you about that patient’s files I had given you,” Molder says. “I haven’t had a chance to thoroughly go through them. I have been busy with Charlie and Jackie,” I say. “It’s no trouble any more. The patient passed away last night,” he says. “I am sorry. Busy. Family.” “I understand. So how are the girls? We have been missing you guys. We wanted to invite you over for dinner on Friday,” Molder says. I shrug. He continues to speak but I‘m not listening . I open a small pack of Irish cream-flavored, half-and-half, and empty it in my coffee. I stir and watch the straw in my coffee spin in small circles. I can hear nurses and patients laughing in the waiting room. I have been working at this private hospital for fifteen years. My shift is six days a week, three hundred and fifty hours a month. I have saved countless people from their selfdestructing selves. Doctor Molder continues talking. The feeling has returned. I turn my head but it’s too late. I hurl on Doctor Molder’s Velcro strap shoes. “Christ, Malcolm. What has happened to you?” Molder says. “I hope the smell of whiskey is from last night.” I turn away from him, cover my mouth and leave the break room. I look behind my shoulder and I see Doctor Molder talking to a nurse. She has a bundle of paper towels in her hand. I enter the bathroom. I rest my hands on the yellow-smeared toilet seat. I dry heave. My lungs

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feel like they’re being pulled out of my throat. Nothing releases from my stomach, only warm saliva drips out of my mouth. There is a knock on the door. “Doctor Kemp. Your patient is waiting for you in room twelve,” a nurse says. “Doctor Kemp?” “Understood,” I say. She leaves. I unbutton the top button of my dress shirt. I can feel the sweat from my neck on my knuckles. I walk to the sink and turn the cold water handle on the faucet. I scoop water into my mouth, wet my forehead and leave the bathroom. I walk down the hallway. I keep my eyes focused on the pattern of the tile. I have walked these halls so much I could walk them blind and drunk. I hear Doctor Molder’s whining voice in the distance calling me. I pay no attention. I enter room twelve. “Finally,” the woman says. “They make me wait forever to see you.” She removes her infamous green sweater. “I thought I told you last time that you were fine, Emily,” keeping my eyes focused on her medical chart. “I have been having sharp pains in my chest, Doctor Malcolm.” Emily brushes her French tipped fingers across her chest. I take my stethoscope and place it on her vibrant copper chest. “You know I hate those things.” She laughs and places her hand on my neck. She reeks like a small suburbia mall. I fight to keep my whiskey in. “Then you shouldn’t have come. I told you last time you should find another doctor.” I bump her hand away. “I have a legitimate reason for being here. I need a flu shot.” Emily extends her left wrist to me. Her arms are covered in tracks. “You have had your share of shots, Em. You beat this already. I told you that the worst was over and you don’t need my help anymore,” I say with slight revolt. “Please. I told you I wasn’t better.” Emily gets on her knees and crawls to me. She gently weeps. “Stand up, Emily. It’s too late.” My heart races like a herd of wild horses. Emily begins to unbutton my pants. I quickly step back. She catches

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herself on the floor with her hands. “A flu shot you can have,” I say. I leave the room. I walk past room ten where Doctor Molder stands, grinning, next to an elderly man who is stepping on a scale with his arms stretched out. I walk into the prescriptions room and take a syringe. I fill it to the top with Isopropanol. I unscrew my flask and drink from it. I can see a blurry reflection of my face in the silver. Last week’s ebony hair dye stains my forehead. My eyes sink deep into my skull and my cheekbones hang like the excess skin of a leg freshly severed by a mine. I put the flask away, take the syringe, and walk back to room twelve. I gaze for a moment at the door handle. I rub my temples, temporarily relieving my aching migraine. I enter the room. “One flu shot,” I say. She is sitting back on the exam table. Her eye lids are puffed up and swelling. I take a cotton pad and drench it in iodine. I sit next to her. “Are you alright? Have you been drinking, Malcolm? ” she asks, pulling her arm away slightly. I grasp her arm and pull her back. Her eyes widen when she sees the ghouls living within mine. The shining silver needle is the light at the end of my animalistic debauchery. The Isopropanol courses through her lilac veins. Her eyes close. She flumps onto the floor. Her chin makes a chipping sound when it meets the ceramic. I squint from the excessive sweat. I contemplate for a moment. I exit the room and walk back to the bathroom. I lock the door, then in pathetic desperation, throw myself against the wall and drop onto the cold floor. I get a text message on my phone. I take my phone out of my pocket. The message is from Charlie. I only read a few words. I don’t have to read the rest. I search in my phone for a picture of Jackie. I only have one. It was taken when she was ten years old. The photo is of me at my graduation. She makes a funny face in the background. I never noticed her. I take the flask out of my pocket. It falls from my hands and clanks against the tile. I snatch it before it continues. I unscrew the sterling silver cap. I lift it over my mouth like an exhausted bicyclist drinking from a frigid water bottle just before approaching the finish line. The flask is empty.

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Maelstrom # 2, Detail Oil on Canvas by Doug Bootes

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Empire by Doug Bootes Every city harbors the same liquor store on the corner which spawns walking dead from alley mist twilight to commiserate afternoons spent studiously rehearsing vacant lot solos accompanied by choruses of codependent disappointment. three men in shade one falls into the sun bottles unbroken An elderly Don Quixote steers an alarm red motorized wheel chair while jousting with six lanes of bipolar windmill traffic in pursuit of a small black terrier hell-bent on self destruction. Light changes green I step, the Spaniard conjures a treat dog stops, traffic flows. two men in shade packages pass unspoken cardboard home tonight Elfin brown Guinevere approaches, constellation tattooed chest, eyes fishing. Sponge Bob square pajama pants, Patrick Star slippers, bird nest bouffant, red plastic gas can clutched like Excalibur. Same woman at Allsup’s two nights ago. Sir, mister, over here. Hey, can you give me some gas money, I’m stranded, my car’s right over there? Sketchy finger probes the darkness, scratches, repeats. intoxicated princess go home to your child sober up on stars While I contemplate giving up meat and dinosaurs trample the roof of Pete’s Pets homeless shelter next to Cheeks strip club next to Liquor

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Barn across from Empire Tattoos the diminutive femme fatale stabs the crosswalk button repeatedly in retribution for ignoring Sponge Bob and Patrick and Mediterranean light illuminates unfulfilled grocery carts abandoned at the edge of civilization. broken glass fairy tale disembodied beer can dreams crushed drop by drop

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Wild Horse Sumi Ink on Rice Paper by Sophia Bootes

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The welcome of weeds by Gill Hoffs I grew a dandelion in my navel once, wearing my trousers loose and low in hopes of a wide yellow flower. At first there was just a tickle of seed, a blood-brown splinter with its own pale parachute of a flower. I poked it into the deep well of my belly button with the scratch of a bitten nail as I lay on the grass, knees high, legs akimbo, and waited an hour to merge with the green. Ten’s no age for a baby, even a botanical one, but still a caramel something poked and crept and tangled and grew. The palest of green sprouted, darkened, developed and one week later the arrowed leaves pushed back against my belly in rosette. Nothing changed at home, I still ran baths and sat on the adjacent toilet, seat down, legs dangling in the water for that shrivel-foot look that told my mother I’d bathed, or skipped showers with the curtain open, writing my name in the steam and toothpaste foam spattered on the mirror, and curse words I’d heard in the playground but never the hardest four letters of h-e-l-p. Granda wasn’t around to blow raspberries or redden my belly with his whiskers, and I changed for PE in the chipped blue Formica cubicles that housed the toilets at school, taking care not to touch the horseshoe-shaped seats made lumpy with the secret heat of abandoned cigarettes. Only the pilots flying high above the verge behind our house might have seen my glory. I would run home down the hill, with the hawthorn’s new growth no longer scratching me as I brushed past the messy hedge, its spider legs of thorns and blossom caressing me instead of drawing speckles of blood and raising pink lumps of grazes. With a thrush rasping disapproval somewhere in the copse of firs that separated me from the windows with a wall of soft green movements, I would strip then wriggle on my back until my limbs stretched a star and smooshed the worm-casts darkening the grass with nipples of dirt. The dark green bud reminded me of the embroidered buttons dimpling the back of the sofa; mum’s beau collected very old furniture and

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very young kisses. I think he just liked linking back to a past where it was legal, where Poe courted Cousin Virginia and cramped conditions meant children shared the marital bed. As planes buzzed overhead, smaller than wasps against a sky striped with the fading fluff of contrails, my baby’s sepals split and spread, and a froth of yellow emerged. It drew bees, lots of them, and their weighty vibrations as they crawled amongst the petal strips, spiking their tongues to drink deep of the nectar, were delicious. I concentrated until the scurrying of earwigs in the soil beneath me thrummed through my back, and I tingled all the way through, skin, ribs, lungs … everything. I’d hoped that was it; I was accepted. Good enough to grow roots, to integrate, to spread. But whatever creature ran into my ears soon ran out again, my nose twitched with itch, and when I blew out a sneeze my baby went too, leaving my navel aching and empty. Six seasons later, I’m still lying here, waiting to forget what it is to be upright, as the grass creeps past my wrists and ankles and a squirrel stores beech-mast beneath my neck. Waiting to flourish, and re-begin.

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At a Western Store in Central Oregon by Peter Ludwin We talked of the Yosemite high country before she showed me clothing on the wall. Her silver Santa Fe belt, the oblong shape of discs meant to ignite her hips, to rain upon the heart a lush, collapsing thunder, corraled the eye. The ring circling her finger spelled husband, son, nights of sage and bliss. Choosing a heavy dark green shirt, I leaned across the counter so she could clip the tag. It wasn’t flesh I saw then, but blue light curled around a wick. Burning with that languid rhythm--largo, andante--of a sonata that consumed log and branch, this rank material world, its coda a dissipating tail of smoke. Blood, a gyrating storm, eroded the mind’s frail coast. But the ring repelled its waves. As I drove out of town she spread over the land like the surrounding ranches. A corona, a mare I guided with a flick of the reins.

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Regarding the Facts of Life by John Grey Jack was ten, witnessing an enforced calf birth. His father reached into the womb, untangled limbs, moved the stomach this way, that way, found the hooves and chained them. With much grunting, and Jack's tiny hands joining in, farmer George jerked the chain taut and pulled like it was a tug of war between one fifty pounds of experience and half a ton of dumb usefulness. Outside, the weather blew a near blizzard. The barn shook, bitter cold permeated the straw-laden nursery. Rough shivering fingers, cloudy grunts the tiny creature roughed and tore its way along the birth canal, before finally popping free in a cascade of leg and cries and ruptured sack and water and freezing blood. The mother turned her head, shrugged off the pain, began licking the newborn, afterbirth flopping against the back of her legs. The baby licked in return, stumbled to its feet through a dozen falls, attached itself to a teat.

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Mother unharmed, calf healthy, and the almighty dollar, also unharmed and healthy. Money on the hoof, was George's favorite saying. Two years later, George handed Jack a book, talked to him a little about love and marriage, sex and childbirth, all in an embarrassed whisper. So other details came to light. The cow was only half the story.

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Heart by Phillis Ideal It was cold and Alice was bundled up in her black parka, with the hood covering her ears. She sipped coffee. The Sunburst Café was always freezing in the winter, as the locals lined up for coffee and left the door open. There was no shelter from the weather or good cheer from the clientele. Patrons hunkered down into their newspapers and rarely talked to those sitting next to them. The winter gloom had gotten the best of everyone. Alice looked across the communal table. Her eyes met those of a frowning face that glanced up at her from some figures scratched on a piece of paper. The man’s eyes looked through her, as if she were in the way of his trance. He mumbled to himself and counted on his fingers. He was handsome, with white blond hair that had dried in unruly curls, dark mysterious eyes, and strong hands. He wore an off-white cableknit Irish turtleneck sweater. The second Alice sat down she heard a little “Oh, my God” in her head as her pulse quickened. This guy was hot, and it was infuriating that he could look at her and not see her. She thought that at any moment he might pack up and leave, so her focus crystallized around talking to him. Her heart stopped beating for a second - her throat went dry and tight; and she blurted out the first thing that came to mind. She was embarrassed to hear what came out of her mouth. “Why can't they shut the door? It’s freezing in here!” He looked back – annoyed; but she didn’t drop it. “Do you live around here?” Pinned by his dark gaze, Alice watched his lips curl slightly and his face register her interest. His eyes held hers for a moment, dropped to her lips, down to her breasts and back up. She thought of an animal checking a scent before mating, and imagined that he was thinking, “All I need is for this woman to be hitting on me.” And she was hitting on him. The thought shocked her. Like a petulant child marching up to a stranger on the beach and getting his attention by dumping her pail of water on his nearly finished sand castle, she had insisted that he come out of his fog and look at her. This was unlike her, since she was usually shy. Now she wanted to take it all back or start

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over. Her heart was racing, skipping beats to catch up to some semblance of normalcy. He did answer her, though. “I don’t live in the neighborhood, but I just had a doctor’s appointment next door. I thought of getting coffee at the trendy coffee shop a block away; but decided this place looked less affected.” “And at a place where no one would bother you?” He smiled at that. The ice had been broken and he started talking a mile a minute. Now it was hard for her to get a word in edgewise. As he talked, he seemed more and more familiar to her. She had met men like him before. Lots of women must start conversations with him. As he talked and talked, never asking her anything about herself or giving her space to insert a comment, a gentle melancholy settled over her like dust. “I live in Greenwich Village but happen to be in this neighborhood because I found this place where you can get a state-of-the-art imaging for detection of structural heart disease. It is a new process that gives a razor-sharp picture of the coronary arteries without the insertion of catheters. I just did it and it was painless. I had a hard time getting my primary physician to order the test, but I insisted and he finally gave in. He said that my heart was in near perfect shape, but I needed to know for sure. “If your heart doesn’t work, nothing does!” he said emphatically. Alice asserted herself and asked, “How did your test come out?” “It showed I have a strong heart with a very good ejection fraction of 65%, the upper limit of normal. I was worried that I had what I saw on the Internet - lack of proper contraction of the heart muscle.” He shuffled through his papers and handed her a diagram showing six stages of a heart muscle, compromised by its small size, struggling to pump blood through its chambers. “I thought I might not be normal. You can’t ever be too sure.” Still taken by his physical presence and mesmerized by his voice, Alice listened much more intently than if the man had been unattractive. Her focus on him dizzied as he chattered on about aortic stenosis, coronary angiography, mitral insufficiency and his cardio numbers. There was more, but he was talking to himself, not to her. As the monologue continued, she felt he would barely notice if she left, gave him back the heart diagram and said goodbye. She glanced over her

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shoulder as she walked through the door. He was scribbling beside his heart results again. The next morning Alice was surprised to see him sitting in the same seat as the day before with his medical manila folder on the table in front of him. He was watching the door. When he saw Alice enter the café, he motioned for her to sit next to him. “Did you come looking for me? I hoped you would be here again today and came here especially to see you.” “I come here everyday to have a cup of coffee before I go to my studio.” Alice struggled to keep him at a distance as she thought trusting him with her heart was like giving your car to a crank mechanic. He ignored her brisk response, smiled and said, “That’s good to know.” Alice was stunned. Yesterday he wasn’t interested in any one but himself, and today he’s pursuing her. They finished their coffee; and he followed her down the block to the paint store, zigzagging through the aisles as she picked up art supplies - talking non-stop, flirting, and playacting. “You’re asking if I have a girlfriend? No. I have eight girlfriends. Yeah, it’s no big deal. They all get together and swap recipes so they can learn how to cook my favorite food. But I don’t care if you can’t cook. We’ll go out.” He was making her laugh along with him. They were now in the sandbox again, six year olds in a make believe zone. Against her better judgment, Alice had caved to his unwavering attention. They both hesitated at the exit of the store before going their separate ways. He looked at her and then down at his feet, took a deep breath, paused several times and spoke in a low, faltering voice. “Maybe, I… I could have your number so we can meet again. And your name. I … I don’t know your name. I would like to get to know you.” She looked down at the paper he handed her to write her number on and saw it was his cardio chart with his figures scratched on the margins. She could see a flurry of numbers, landed on the page, like birds that had dropped from their flight formations, never to reach their destination. “ I hope you don’t get my phone number mixed up with your heart measurements.” She took the pen in hand and wrote a fake number.

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You’re On Your Own, Kid by Deborah Schreifels Right after I was born, my mother won a deluxe baby carriage, the Cadillac of coaches. She wrote an award winning essay on why she needed the carriage. The coach was jet black with a deep bellied body, an oversized hood and huge silver wheels. The prize was a luxurious beginning for the 13th child out of a family of 14 kids; possibly even an omen of a charmed life to come. For the first six months of life, I was the sole occupant of the coach. By the time I sat up on my own, my sister Nora, eleven months older than me, shared the space. And about a year and a half later my brother Timmy, thirteen months younger, got to ride the big coach with his big sisters. All three of us sat one behind each other in a row, legs wrapped around the thighs of the sibling in front. Timmy, in first position, had it best as he kept his legs out straight ahead. I remember the coach as a torture chamber, especially in winter. Coats in those days, a layer of wool cloth with a light lining, were inadequate against the cold and wind, and after a short time in the carriage, we’d be freezing and our legs would be numb from lack of movement. Then, the squirming and whining began. As the discomfort level escalated, all hell broke loose with pinches, punches and bites. Not surprisingly, by the time I was a year old, I learned to walk…a much more comfortable mode of transportation than the fancy coach. We three youngest Sweenys were a unit unto ourselves. There had been a four year gap in my mother’s pregnancies before Nora was born. In her late 30’s, she thought she was done after #11, but then “surprise”…the last three children came one after the other. Although she kept her babies close to her after birth, by the end of the first year of life they were relinquished to the herd…with the hope that an older sibling would take a protective interest. My sister Patsy, the second oldest girl, stepped up to serve as a surrogate mother for Nora, and my sister Joan, the oldest girl took care of me…that is until my brother Timmy was born. As soon as Timmy was released by Mama, Joan literally “dumped”

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me out of her room. When I saw all my clothes on the floor next to the bed one morning, I asked Joanie, “Is it clean-up day today?” “No, it’s moving day,” she replied. “So, pick up your clothes and take them into the room where Nellie, Priscilla and Mary sleep. That’s where you’ll stay from now on. Timmy’s moving into this room.” “But, why can’t I stay with you?” “Because I want Timmy in my room.” Joan saw males as a superior species and, even now at the age of 83, she still does. I didn’t really mind the rejection as she was a strict guardian who inconsistently showered me with praise (for doing nothing special) or abuse (also for doing nothing special). You just never knew what to expect from her and what would set her off. But, Joanie was just a child herself when she was put in charge of younger siblings, and by the age of sixteen she worked full time to support the family while continuing to parent the children, The Y chromosome ruled in the Sweeny household. The males were an extension of my father and received preferential treatment; they were considered more intelligent and more important. Their penis guaranteed them a privileged existence. They were exempt from housework and chores and could do no wrong; their opinions and ideas were held in high esteem and they could call on their sisters to do anything and everything for them…which the sisters did with great joy. My mother had modeled the feminine role and “pleasing a male” was the measure of success for a woman. Girls in the family were not encouraged to go to school or aspire to any career other than being a housewife and mother, and this did not require a college education. We were handmaidens in service to the males. “Debbie, come in and rub my back,” my oldest brother John called out. “Okay, John, I’m coming.” And there I’d be at the age of six standing behind him with little hands massaging his neck, shoulders and back while he sat at his desk studying medicine and listening to opera on the radio. Other sisters also took turns massaging John. “Debbie, run down to Ornstein’s and get me a pack of Lucky Strikes,” shouted my brother Mike. “Oh, yea, and get me an O’Henry bar and a copy of EYE magazine (later replaced by Playboy).” Yes, that’s

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right; I bought girlie magazines for my brother since I was six years old. Why’s Mr. Ornstein’s face so red? I thought to myself. And why does he grab the magazine from my hands so quickly and shove it into a paper bag? Later it became clear that Mr. Ornstein, the owner of the corner candy store/luncheonette, was uncomfortable selling cigarettes and porno magazines to a little girl, but he knew the whole family and didn’t want to lose his best customers. My brother Denny sought my services when I was a bit older. “Debbie, would you iron my work shirts? I’ll pay you 25 cents for the week.” That was about five cents a shirt, a very big deal for a kid without an allowance or a job. I was the middle child in this last batch of Sweenys. Although I was loved, treasured and treated kindly (most of the time) by my older siblings, after my brother Timmy was born, no one took me under their wing…which in retrospect was a blessing. Only my two oldest sisters, Joan and Patsy, were empowered to take care of the youngest ones. And each one found their match in Nora and Timmy. My other sisters were still in grammar school and preoccupied with taking care of themselves. At a very young age I got the message loud and clear, “You’re on your own, kid.” With no one to turn to for advice or help, I learned to be independent, self-sufficient and very diplomatic. When my sister Nora was being toilet trained at two years old, a potty chair was placed in the hallway outside the bathroom, and I watched and listened and figured out quickly how to get out of shitty diapers. I beat Nora at this developmental step and was toilet trained soon after my first birthday. When you’re on your own, it’s also critical to identify your enemies. My youngest brother Timmy, spoiled and catered to by older sisters and my mother, was at the same time teased mercilessly by our older brothers. He had a lot of rage. Being closest in age, I became his punching bag whenever he was frustrated or angry. I learned early on to avoid Timmy because in any dispute, my sister Joan took his part and I was blamed for provoking his misbehavior. Nora also threatened my existence. She was moody, mean and aggressive, but also funny, provocative and persuasive. She had a seductive

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quality and like a spider she would catch you in her web and then attack. “That’s my coloring book,” I cried as she snatched if from my hand. “I know, but it’s mine now. It’s mine.” “Give it back!” “No, come and get it.” I tried to pull the book from her hand, and we pushed and pulled back and forth until suddenly she let go and I fell backwards on the floor. Then, like a nasty cat, she leaped on me and clawed my arms with her sharp nails. “Take that you little brat,” she said. “I’m going to tell on you.” “Oh, yea, who are you gonna tell? You bother Mama and she’s gonna get mad. So shut up you little crybaby.” She was right. My mother didn’t allow us to come to her with sibling spats. We had to settle them among ourselves. Overpowered and defeated, I withdrew and stayed away from Nora until the next time when I’d be desperate for companionship and fooled into a false sense of trust. As a young child I was obedient and compliant, and tried to avoid conflict at all cost. These qualities did not serve me well around Nora who had the power to convince me to do almost anything, even when I knew it was wrong. One day when I was about six years old, Nora and I tagged along with two older sisters, Rita and Priscilla, who were on an errand to pick up cold cuts at a deli around the corner. We waited outside the store for our sisters. When Nora noticed a small group of teenagers standing on the curb about 20 feet away, she pointed to a guy at the center of the group and said, “Debbie, see that tall guy over there with the black jacket.” “Yea.” “That’s Jimmy Shanahan.” “Yea, so?” “ He called Priscilla a fat pig outside of school yesterday and made her cry.” “Oh, that’s so mean.” “Yeah, I think you should go over there and kick him right between his legs (she pointed to the target spot, since I didn’t know much about the male anatomy at that age).”

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I had strong legs and Nora knew it; she felt their power in sibling battles. Before acting on her directive, I thought: This is not a good idea. He’s very big and might hurt me. I shouldn’t do this. It’s not right. But if I don’t do it, Nora will get mad and tease me. Besides, I was excited by the challenge of doing something daring. With Nora’s prodding, I walked toward the group, stretching my legs farther with each step, picking up speed as I got closer, and then like a lightning bolt, I kicked the guy square in the nut sack. Wham!...In a flash I turned and ran like hell towards home with Nora close behind in a smoke cloud. With a quick turn of the head I looked back to see how close the guy was behind us. But he wasn’t running. He was bent over clutching his crotch with his friends holding him up. At the corner, Nora and I turned left on Broadway and hid in the alcove of our apartment building. A few minutes later Rita and Priscilla, looking quite frantic, came flying through the entrance. Rita was very angry, “Where the hell did you go? We’ve been looking all over for you. You idiots! You were supposed to stay right outside the store and wait for us.” “I’m sorry, Rita, but we had to run away,” I said. “Jimmy Shanahan was going to kill us.” “What are you talking about?” “I kicked Jimmy Shanahan because he called Priscilla a fat slob.” “Who’s Jimmy Shanahan?” Priscilla asked. “I don’t know a Jimmy Shanahan… and what do you mean I’m a fat slob?” A shy, self-conscious, overweight teenager, Priscilla’s face turned red with embarrassment and tears welled up in her eyes. I turned to look at Nora and expected her to explain why she told me to do the deed, but she said nothing. She just stared ahead with a smirk of satisfaction on her face. Oh, this is terrible, I thought. I feel so sad. I made Priscilla cry. What a dummy I am for listening to Nora. She always tricks me. And that poor man, I hurt him for no reason. This is a mortal sin. Now I have to go to confession and tell Father McDermott. I just couldn’t figure out how to explain the situation to Rita and Priscilla and it seemed pointless to blame Nora. I was guilty. From this incident I learned that shame, remorse and duplicity are powerful teachers in the game of survival.

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Right Now is a Season by Susan Aylward white stars on a horizon of blue, snow announces its presence in the yawning shadow of a mountain my mind chews on lingering seeds, left over from a different season church bells guide me, look for the light as I lift my head, there is no light, the sun a blip on a sky void of blue in this moment of many seasons gray is the only one present, chaos of creation encompassed in seeds, dirt made manifest, murky mountains I hope one day to climb those mountains, arms wide open, try to catch that light, let my spirit go to seed, the sky be my vast ocean blue, bathe in light’s holy presence, dare to reveal my season right now is a season for terra-cotta cloaked mountains, and dusty beasts revealing the presence of air given form, dancing with light, for a moment masking the blue, jarring loose dreaming seeds, catching in nooks waiting for seeds lucky enough to have their season, horizon’s hues, the purple and blue of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains,

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in the shade of the fading light I can not deny their presence right now is the undeniable presence of stories hiding in hearty seeds, nurture dreams unready for light until it is their season, when through the clouds a patch of blue emerges over the mountains turquoise vein's shocking blue presence creeps through mountainsides full of seed, this season of solar-flare-northern-lights

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And She Told Me It Was OK by Nina Listro They told me things weren’t right. A small whisper tried to persuade me. The music blared, but not enough to drown it. I tried to twist it out, shake it out, cotton-eye joe it out. Sweating among a hundred others I was alone. I walked out of the room, through the hallway and out into the night, hopped my black Jeep that kept all our secrets, and drove two minutes to your driveway-two knocks and I stood before you in that red dress, the one with the strip of lace, teasing you with a glimpse of my skin. It was dark, but my lipstick was bright. My eyes were larger than usual, more alluring for sure. You took me to your kitchen. I could have been walking down the red carpet, smiling and waving at all the cameras, but we were only going to your kitchen, the one with Skippy peanut butter, white bread, and fish sticks. Why are you here? I could be happy with you. I could be happy with your two pairs of socks, the keys you carry even though you don’t own a car,

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I could make time for you every day. But you weren’t happy with me. You weren’t happy with my grandpa’s sweater, the way I like to read about psychosis, drink tea, and talk about farming. So I told you it was okay. I laughed though my heart told me not to. I gave you a high five though I knew I shouldn’t. I walked out the door, but didn’t want to, back to the sweaty dancing bodies. And when they asked, I told them I was okay.

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My Mother’s Hands by Joan Burt My mother, she had the biggest hands in the neighborhood. They were stronger, even, than my father’s. They were giant, balancing tree burl knuckles on probing, nightcrawler-like fingers. She said that she could open almost anything, contorting her mouth, bearing down, then grasping the neck of that pickle jar hard, ending with a twist. She especially loved thinking about her strange talents while shuffling cards with a faraway look in her eyes, and she would tell her children, “I play to win.” Her hands matched her massive teeth, her tired jaw, what she told us was a weighty overbite, and her obsession. She became especially proud one day when she announced to me the following: “I am here, on Planet Earth,” she said, “to make everything even.”

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Autumn Elegy by Betsy Fogelman Tighe The day after a woman, the mother of two school age sons, finishing her evening constitutional, is crossing the street, thinking of her mother’s upcoming visit and what she will cook the night she arrives to please and remind them all of historic family occasions, and wondering what color shirt her oldest wore today, worried they’d violated the standard dress code but realizing the luck he wasn’t sent home to interrupt her work just at that blessed moment when it aligned itself precisely with her intentions and a glance of divine inspiration, she assumes that the approaching car is slowing, but the sun blazes at the horizon, blinding the driver of the white Jeep so he doesn’t understand the blast, thinks “deer!”, then sees her scarlet leggings flying up and over-the rains begin and do not cease for five full days as if the desert metamorphed to jungle and the monsoon came: her husband within days is in the yard planting tulips, he can’t be in the house and wait anymore for one boy to weep, while the other can’t stop, doesn’t know if he should yet clear her closet, puts on her reading glasses to lull himself to sleep, which comes just fitfully now and then, digs down two inches so they will remember how she’d made a secret trip to town to buy the bulbs: lilac, blue, deep purple, planning to surprise them with the bursting into spring.

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Early Elegy for My Mother by Devon Miller-Duggan Inevitably this will want to be biography. Mine, not hers. Even in childhood photos— at 4 holding the Shirley Temple doll and leaning into her mother’s knee on which her baby sister rests, my mother’s already smiling as if she knew she should. At 8 she’s formal for the camera, leaning on her arms, French braids and bows, a plaid taffeta, lace-collared dress that likely came from Philadelphia—a polished child with serious eyes. She says, “I give and give. I love and love.” She says, “You were always so good, so easy.” She says, “I stayed with him for you.” She says, “I left him for you.” She says, “I knew you’d figure out how mad at me you are if you went into therapy.” She says, “I had your sister because I thought I’d make another you.” She says, “I moved to the Cape so you could have the summers there.” She says, “I stayed with him so I wouldn’t burden you.” She says, “I moved with you because you wanted me to.” She says, “You are my best accomplishment.” Even at 80 and barely alive from pneumonia, she looks at trees and thinks whether they’d be good to climb. Even at 60 and wobbly from MS, she rode the waves on Cape Cod Bay all day with granddaughters, laughing like sunlight. She taught me to stand for the Hallelujah Chorus, how to say

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hors d’oeuvres, to always take one piece of jewelry back off, how to say shit!, how to cook, and how to hurt my father. Daughters mine, don’t let me hook your hearts to mine. Make me let go.

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The Fall Intaglio by Claire Moore

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2 Haiku by Margaret Peters If you were here You would see warm green water, Smell eucalyptus You would see Dogs on bath mat, me in bath— Eyes closed

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The Spell by Barbara Hill I will not scream when I see the tomato hornworm because I know that this is what he wants. Yes, my brother has finally mastered the spell for becoming an insect and here he is now, a creepy fat king of caterpillars who rears up on his back feet, checking to see if I’m still reading the bourgeois poets and not the poets of revolution. And also, just for old time’s sake to shock and disgust me. Something he’s good at, whether as a creature with one red horn or a person who looks like me and was supposed to love me.

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Draw a Box by Lauren Camp Draw a box on the wall of your largest room. Without a ruler, I drew. Write a word in the box. Anything you choose. I wrote grunt, lace, seed pod, stumble. Draw a circle that reaches the edges of the box, then draw the perspective of the box – a vertiginous series of lines rising over a valley. To the east, sun tipped up as though in a memory. Watch someone you know approach the box from the northeast edge by the wooden bridge. Quickly draw a door on your box. Wearing black silk gloves, a small, beautiful woman reaches for the door. Listen to the cerulean sound of her swallows. The tones swoop forward, and settle on the ceiling. When she exits, watch her walk up the steep hill to a brick house you hadn’t seen before. Under her arm, she holds an old newspaper she found in my box. Turn off the lights in your box. Feel the missing sides of the box.

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A Modern Fairy Tale by Neda Vesselinova Once upon a time there was a prince who lived in a castle. He lived a very secluded life, spending all of his time on the many computers and gadgets around the castle. No one else in the kingdom knew what he looked like except for the king. He only communicated through his Facebook page using a very carefully constructed profile. The King loved his only son dearly and pampered him with the newest, fastest technology in the kingdom. The young prince was allowed everything he wished for, except for one thing: the King made him promise that no matter what happened, he would not go on a certain website. “It is too dangerous for you,” The King insisted many times. But the prince was very curious; he knew everything about the Internet, and he was getting quite bored with it. He decided he had to visit the website and see what was so special about it. But when he entered the website, nothing much happened. The website looked very interesting, but he couldn’t continue unless he gave his password for his Facebook, email, and credit card accounts. After some hesitation, the prince gave his information. A few days later, the prince received a notice from the website that asked for his personal bank account in case the prince wished to make a purchase. The prince entered the codes and went on with his day. But the next day, the prince discovered that his entire bank account had been emptied. All of the prince’s online accounts had also been hacked into. The prince realized what he had done. He was very upset, but he couldn’t tell the truth about the hacker just yet. Suddenly the fire alarms went off. The prince reluctantly left his room and went out the back door of the castle, where no one could see him. After several minutes, the alarm went off and he got a text alert that it was safe to go back inside. But when he tried to open the door of his room, it was locked. Cursing his look, the prince peered through the key hole. He caught a glimpse of a hooded figure sitting at his computer, hunched back and typing on what appeared to be Facebook. Who was that, and how did he

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get past his many log-ins and security checks? The prince realized that the only other person to have that information was the hacker. The prince knocked on the door, but hacker wouldn’t let him in. The prince gave up. There was no way to prove that he was the real prince, as no one had ever seen him. The prince left the castle grounds and went into the forest. After hours of wandering, the prince realized how much he missed his computer and the Internet. He wished he could tweet out to his friends or Google “how to get your stolen money back from a hacker,” but he couldn’t. He was miserable and didn’t know what to do with his life. After a day or two, the prince came upon a house in the woods. The house was well designed and modern, and it looked like it had a fast Internet connection. The prince knocked on the door and discovered that a programming wizard lived there. The prince pleaded for shelter and Internet access, and the wizard gave him both. The prince stayed there and learned how to program and to hack into other people’s accounts. One day he went on Facebook to see if his profile had been changed, and he noticed that there were several recent posts, likes, and status updates. The hacker had stolen the prince’s entire identity. When the prince had finally become an expert computer whiz, he knew he was ready to face the evil hacker. He went onto the website again, and started to crack the code. It was more complicated than any other code he had ever seen, but he kept on working. Many times he thought he had succeeded in getting access, and many times he failed. Finally, he got into the hacker’s system and took over the website. Then he was able to take hold of his bank accounts and money. Unfortunately, the one thing the prince didn’t get a hold of was his Facebook account and his room. The prince returned to the kingdom. He knew what he had to do. The prince approached his father, the King, for the first time in many, many years. He tried to convince the King that he was his son and told him the story of the hacker, but the King didn’t know if he could believe him. “What if you are the real hacker, and you just want to steal my son’s computer?” the King asked. However, the prince persisted, and the King finally agreed to go and unlock the room. The hacker continued to claim that he was the real son, until the King had an idea. He asked:

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“What is your mother’s maiden name?” The prince waited to see if that the hacker couldn’t answer, and when he did, the prince correctly answered. The king knew who his real son was right away, and exposed the hacker. The king then ordered for the hacker to be placed in a prison, in the middle of nowhere, with no Internet connections of any kind. The prince married one of his Facebook “friends” (he made a poll called “Who Should I Marry?”), became king, and lived happily ever after. He went down in history as the man with the most inscrutable password.

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Refugees Marc Chagall’s Homme avec son chat et femme avec enfant (1914) by Brian Cronwall The humpbacked refugee cradles his cat like he might a baby, while his wife carries her infant like a cat. In ink of brown and black, they trudge next to a shorter man; his uniform and hat encourage their stooped steps. All their experience is learned in this moment, on white paper. They never reach a true destination; this morning, in the Musee de Luxembourg, they are still refugees, observed after ninety years, a man and his cat, a woman and her child, a homeless world still dreaming of reality.

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Sea Dream by Joseph Hutchison Clang of a buoy’s iron bell swaddled by fog. Long swells lift and lower my oarless boat. Wood-creak. The cold’s wet slap and slop upon the bow: hollow, hollow, hollow. True, I need to wake; and yet it’s this blind drift in the mist I relish: rocking, rocking—cradled above an unseen current I’ve come to love.

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Fish Linoleum Stamp by Claire Moore

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At Sea by Shari Hack Jones Estelle Larson loved the color blue. For all of her seventy-five years it had always been her favorite color. Even her wedding ring was an aquamarine instead of a diamond. “Mom, are you going to finish your lunch?” her daughter, Celeste, prompted. Estelle looked up at her only child as if awakened by a dream. She smiled as she sipped her iced tea. “Dear, I’m so glad you could accompany me on this cruise. Isn’t the food wonderful?” Celeste winced slightly. “The food’s fine,” she mumbled, crunching on a green bean. The old lady looked around the dining room. A waitress approached their table. “Can I get you something else?” “I’d like some more iced tea, please.” After the waitress left, Estelle beamed at her daughter. They occupied a table by the window where she could gaze outside at the endless water. Until now she’d never seen the ocean, never been out of Kansas, born and bred. First the daughter of a farmer, then a farmer’s wife. Her one dream had been to someday go on a cruise. And here she was. The waitress returned with more tea, filling both their glasses. Estelle was thirsty in the heat. She didn’t usually wear sleeveless dresses anymore but today was an exception. She had picked out her favorite summer muumuu. The one with the turquoise flowers and white rickrack around the collar. She wore matching white shoes. She called them her “old lady shoes”, the lace-up kind with low heels and non-slip soles. Sensible but not fashionable. It had been years since she’d been able to coax her swollen feet into a pair of sandals. Sandals were more appropriate footwear for a cruise. A dessert cart wheeled in next to their table. So many choices. Celeste opted for the chocolate cake but Estelle asked for something plainer, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, perhaps? “Will your father be joining us soon?” Estelle asked between spoon-

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fuls, looking hopefully towards the door. “Dad’s no longer with us, Mom. He’s in heaven now. It’s been three years.” “Oh, that’s right.” Estelle knit her brows, slightly confused. After lunch, Estelle suggested they go out on the deck. Celeste helped her mother struggle out of her chair to grasp the handles of her walker. They proceeded slowly out of the dining room. “Good-bye,” sang the waitress. “The help on this cruise is so polite,” whispered Estelle. “We’ll have to sail this line again.” Celeste smiled as she guided her mother through the door leading to the deck. They settled into a couple of deck chairs. After several minutes Estelle asked, “What is your job, dear?” “I’m an administrative assistant, Mom.” “Oh, that sounds very important. I’m so proud of you!” Celeste didn’t have the heart to explain for the thousandth time that she was just a secretary. Estelle commented on the seagulls. Celeste sighed. They were mallards, but Celeste kept quiet. Her mother would forget as soon as she told her. Estelle grew tired and asked to be brought back to her cabin so she could take a nap. “Dear, what time is dinner?” “Don’t worry, Mom. You won’t miss dinner. Just take a little rest now.” Celeste helped her mother out of her shoes and knee-high stockings and covered her with a light cotton blanket. She kissed her mother good-bye as she mumbled something about the cruise. As Celeste was leaving, she ran into the director of the nursing home. They exchanged pleasantries and an update on Estelle’s condition. “I wish all our residents were as content as your mother.” Celeste was grateful that her mother was happy even if she didn’t know where she was.

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Three Foggy Mornings and One Rainy Day by Eric Roe So this is how it’s going to be: I call, you pick up, but you don’t say anything. Not even hello? Not even Piss off, Malcolm? You won’t even hang up. Fine, then. Look, I’m calling to talk. You said we never talk. So don’t say anything. What can I do? Don’t say anything, it’s fine. I just wanted to tell you about this dream I had. We used to tell each other our dreams. You told me about the kids in the hot air balloons, remember? Where you walked outside and there were these little kids falling out of the sky? And you looked up and saw hundreds of hot air balloons, and that’s where the kids were falling from. It was raining kids. And you caught one, and he about broke your arms, he was falling so fast. You caught him, you broke his fall, but the force was so hard he fell through your arms and hit the ground, and you took him to the hospital, you wanted to save him. You handed him over to the doctors. But then when you rode down in the elevator, all of a sudden you couldn’t breathe. Like all the air’d been sucked out of the elevator car and right out of your lungs. And you woke up gasping for breath and crying. You probably didn’t think I was listening when you told me that. You think I tune out whenever you talk about kids. But what am I supposed to say? I’m calling because I dreamed about Tyler last night. Are you there? It’s all right. Maybe I can only tell you this way. Maybe it’s the only way I can get the nerve. Don’t say anything. I was sitting upstairs when I dreamed about him. The windows got shot out again—did I tell you that? It was that Palmer kid, I’m sure of it. I came home from work a few days ago and found all the upstairs windows broken. BBs all over the floor. So last night I faked him out. I took off for work like I always do, but then I parked down the street and snuck back, went and dug Tyler’s BB gun out of the closet, then sat up by his window, waiting. Fig-

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ured the Palmer kid would come back to see if I’d replaced the windows. Figured I’d sit up there by Tyler’s window and wait, let him have it if he showed up with his gun. See how he likes being on the receiving end. You remember when he used to shoot at Tyler at the bus stop. Tyler never said anything about it until after we got him the BB gun. Then he told us why he wanted it. You remember? You were at work already. He wanted to take the gun to school, and of course that was out of the question, and so he finally broke down and told me why. He wanted to be able to defend himself. So I figured last night, I figured if it’s war the Palmer kid wants— But I fell asleep waiting. I must have fallen asleep. Because then there was Tyler, sitting on the edge of his bed, looking at me. He had a black eye. He didn’t say anything, he didn’t do anything significant. Just sat there. There was so much I wanted to ask him. We just gazed at each other for the longest time. You know dreams. How time stretches out. When I woke up— Well, I don’t remember falling asleep in the first place. Instead, I just remember gazing and gazing until the sun came through and I realized Tyler wasn’t there, of course. And I thought how silly it would be, a grown man— Can you see the headline? Grieving father duels with neighborhood bully. But I want to pound the daylights out of the Palmer kid. It’s my way of dealing. My way of catching all the Tylers falling out of hot air balloons. But then you realize you can never make the catch, and you wake up suffocating. Isn’t that exactly what happens? This would be a good time for you to say something. Say, Yes, yes, that’s exactly how I feel, Malcolm. Say, I can see you understand, Malcolm, after all this time, you finally get it. Say, Maybe I could try to come home now. Maybe now it would be okay. Don’t say anything. It’s all right. I’ll just sit here and listen. I’m listening.

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Los Alamos Project Artist Book Cover by Ro Calhoun

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Cartographer by María Cristina López The charge of a grandmother Is to map the rivers and streams of blood lines, to trace branches across countries and borders, to be the cartographer of stories yet unknown to a grandchild thirsting for tales about old times. He doesn’t care how many times he’s heard the story about his great grandmother, sitting on Pancho Villa’s lap as a child or squeezing chapulines to see the color of their blood, and uncle Toribio the family pornographer whose nude drawings were famous throughout the country. We bake the cultures of our countries kneading soda bread no more than five times, grinding maize in a metate for the biographer who saves all the recipes his mother cooked for him including morcilla, blood sausage, with papas, a favorite when he was a child. At a Native Roots concert when Carlos was a child before he knew the meaning of nations within countries while dancing to the drums I whispered: “ We have Indian blood” Silence first and then in a very loud voice, several times, “I don’t have Indian blood. I don’t have Indian blood” Grandmother red with shame .“I have Batman blood” said the child cartographer. You describe the richness of mestizaje as a cartographer “You’re part Spanish, part Indian, part Irish,” to a child looking at his body, asking his mother

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“Is my head Indian? How about my legs?” This time wise brother explains: “It’s like cooking, measure a bit of each country mix them together, bake, and you have a boy with mestizo blood.” In this Facebook world, are deep blood lines an issue? Is there a need for a family cartographer? Mapping instant social connections is a sign of our times. When befriending five hundred people as a child it is possible to populate your own cyber country by the time you’re fifty without once being a mother. I’m the keeper of the blood lines of my grandchild. Searching across time, digging between countries, connecting the dots from cartographer to grandmother.

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Ambushed by Elizabeth O’Brien After you died I walked around encased in an enormous gauze bandage, tightly wound with adhesive tape—at times so tight I could not breathe. Could not sing. Could not speak. Could not dream. The bandage was armor I wore in order to get up every morning to go out into the world that I kept at a distance, self-contained in my gauze and tape. The bandage staunched the blood that threatened to ooze out of the wound; kept the wound clean so the skin might begin to adhere; protected the wound from hard knocks or gentle probing. But sometimes the gauze shredded in an instant and the wound—exposed to sunlight—was as raw as ever. Once again, I had been ambushed. March, 2001 Winter has broken early this year. Daffodils are opening brilliant yellow petals, following the purple crocuses a few weeks earlier. I walk uptown to run errands and breathe in fresh, sweet air, without parkas, mittens and hats. The bandage feels looser today. Suddenly, out the corner of my eye I see a tall, dark-haired man in tennis shorts and sweater, leaning over his car. I stop breathing. For an instant I am sure it is you—same build, same tennis outfit, same relaxed motion. Perhaps you have played a trick on us all and you are actually alive! I didn’t know whether to be angry or relieved. But the moment passes—the man turns toward me and I see it is not you. The spring day chills, so I turn around and head home, heart pounding in my chest and my ears, my body shaken. April, 2001 I am sitting alone at the back of the ballroom, having arrived a bit late for Kim’s wedding. The young minister greets Kim and Andre : “I know you were hoping for someone else to be in this spot today, and I know that I am just a stand-in, but also know that he is here in spirit with you.” I can hardly breathe. I choke on his unexpected words— the unwelcome tears. I hear nothing more of the service; I am thrown into another place—dark, lonely. Afterwards, I hug Kim and Andre, greet friends, and even dance a few dances with a newly widowed

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friend, then sit down at the table for dinner with three couples I know only slightly. They do not seem to know what to say to me, and I have no words for them—I can’t catch my breath. After taking a bite of salad, I excuse myself from the table and find the bride’s mother. Fighting back tears I manage, Thanks so much for inviting me—it was so lovely. Just to let you know, Jim had set Kim’s wedding as a goal; he had so hoped to be here today.” We hug, both in tears. I blurt, “ I have to go,” and flee. June, 2001 I drive with friends to the Women Resource Center’s annual cocktail party, my first social gathering since you died. The house is filled with vases of lilies and roses; the food table overflowing with elegant plates of crudités, bakery rolls, shrimp, beef tenderloin, chicken satay— all your favorites. I greet couples we both know who hug me and ask how I am doing. My head begins to buzz, so I wander onto the outdoor patio until it begins to pour, and we all dash inside. I have been here less than an hour, and I suddenly cannot breathe—I feel dizzy, I cannot make myself say one more word. I find my friends to tell them I am going home—“ I can walk, it’s just a few blocks away.” Peter scoffs, “It’s pouring—I will take you.” I hate to pull him away because of my own inability to be with all these people—friends, mostly couples—but relent. He drives me home without a word, just a knowing hug as I get out of the car. September, 2001 My daughter’s childhood friend was supposed to get married in New Orleans, two weeks after 9/11; however, none of her family wanted to get on a plane, so the wedding was moved back to New Jersey. The sun shone through the stained glass windows in rainbow colors as the bridesmaids and bride walk down the aisle carrying golden chrysanthemums and blue cornflowers. Our daughter looks radiant as maid-ofhonor in her royal blue, strapless satin gown. She smiles at her fiancée, Andrew, and me as she walks slowly by. After welcoming the bridal party, the priest mounts the lectern and begins to pray. Suddenly he is saying “and we pray for the father of Melina’s dear friend and maid of honor, who has departed this life and is remembered with love.” I feel stabbed by a sharp knife that cuts right

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through the adhesive, the gauze—leaving my heart exposed and swollen. Tears pour down my cheeks—I am shaking in the pew. Suddenly, I feel Andrew’s arm around me, holding me tightly until the tears subside. In that moment I have been ambushed by familiar sorrow—but this time, also by unexpected love.

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He Looked Good in Pictures by Meneese Wall There it was, verging on the shortest email ever sent - a lifetime’s anticipated missive tangled with years of relentless manipulations, questions unanswered, abuse unproven, choices unchanged, emotions smothered, and relief. “Dad died today at 9am.”

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Diacetylmorphine by Janelle Bohannon He sat in the dark room, barricaded in by his clothes and thoughts, trying to drown his blasting neurons in a bottle of blood red 1984 cabernet sauvignon that his parents had been saving for their 25th wedding anniversary. This was an occasion they would never forget. It set the mood. He lit a candle, ignored phone calls, texts. He could see the headline, “Twenty year old male found dead in his boxers.” They were his preferred boxers. The blue ones. The silk ones he partied in. He would use his favorite spoon. The one he always grabbed for Saturday morning cereal. It had swirls on the handle. It was reliable and exquisite. It would never be used for cereal again. He poured the diamorphine, the H, smack, heroin, like a cement truck on to his spoon. He maneuvered it carefully as if it was filled with the Lucky Charms he usually consumed. It was no longer Saturday morning, cereal, and Recess playing on the television anymore. He set his spoon over the candle. He watched it bubble, like the resentment he felt for his father. That asshole had left his mom, addicted to the rush of neon lights and slot machines. He lost a father. His mom lost a husband and his father lost all their money. He prepped his arm, tourniquet tight, smelled that vinegar stench of the ‘horse’ on the spoon, same fumes he soaked in when he’d clean every nasty corner in the house, on his knees with a toothbrush in hand, a solution of lye by his feet. He was ready to burn out all the dirt and deceit in that grout. The house was never clean enough. He scrubbed track marks on the floor, attempted to erase all trace that he was ever there. His father walked in, stamped his muddy feet on the floor with the smell of smoke trailing him. “You missed a spot, asshole,” as he stepped on the kid’s hand. He held the needle. He had to get enough of the tar into the syringe. He saw the headline again. “Male overdosed at twenty.” He always knew he’d be famous someday. It’s better to be someone in a small city than no one in a big city.

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He followed the track marks up his arm, like hunting quail? Deer? Buffalo? He wouldn’t know. He didn’t hunt. His dad never took him. The dark blue vein begged for it, thirsty. Very thirsty. His body was sweating for it, like a whore in church. He felt the beautiful pinch of the needle in his skin, slid the syringe all the way in. No need to save any of it. Eyes felt heavy. Arms numb, but for a tingling covering his skin, as if being reborn. He was finally floating, until hands were on his body and something wet dripped on his face. He couldn’t hear his dad’s sobs. He couldn’t hear the sirens. He never heard the door open, the loud voices of the EMT’s working him over, but he could see the comforting lights. Lights that blasted the brilliance of what remained to be seen: life or death.

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Thankso, Klaxo by Cassie McMain “Is she watching the tape?” “Of course she’s watching the tape.” Harriet snorted and raised an arm to be hugged. Henry hugged her, wrinkling his nose against her cigarette smoke. “How long have you been here? All day?” “Few hours.” “How’s she been?” Harriet rolled her eyes and moved through toward the living room, toward the woman on the couch. “Henry’s here, Mom.” The woman looked up, glaring and then smiling. “Henry.” She staggered a little on her first attempt to stand, eventually made it, and held one arm up the same way Harriet had done. “Hug your mother.” The cigarette was the same, too. Henry winced under the hug, the bony arm, the smoke, the odor of cheap wine. “I’m making some dinner,” Harriet commented as she stepped toward the kitchen. “You’re staying, right?” Her eyes pleaded with Henry to say yes, but she knew the answer before he shook his head. “I can’t, Hare. I …” He trailed off as Harriet threw her hands in the air and stalked off, muttering. He followed her. “Hare.” “What?” She threw a stalk of celery down and chopped at it. “You could stay for dinner sometimes, Henry. It wouldn’t kill you. I’ve been here since noon, dealing with her.” Harriet came once or twice a week, just to check up on things. She was there every Sunday, without fail. Henry came about once a month. “But I have a family, Nan expects me home for dinner, I can’t just –” “Fine, whatever. I could have had a family, then what? Huh? Then it wouldn’t be me standing here, chopping up celery and onions and goddamn hardboiled eggs and whatever the hell else. Who would it be then? Who, Henry?” Henry licked his lips. “I’m sorry, Harriet. You’re right, I know

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you’re… it’s not fair to dump it all on you, but…” He sat on one of the kitchen stools. “We’re gonna have to do something about her eventually.” “Ha,” Harriet snorted. “Yea, that’s gonna happen.” She glanced at Henry, who looked offended, and her face softened. “Seriously, Henry, what do you think we can do? We can’t do anything. She’s a lush, and she’s nuts, and she’s broke. And she’s not going to admit to any of those things.” “Well, she has the house.” He glanced around at the kitchen, lost in thought. The tape started up again in the other room, and he squeezed his eyes shut. “How many times has she watched that today?” Harriet pointed at the half empty wine bottle on the counter. “That tell you anything? Ten? Twelve? I don’t count.” She sighed, and poured a glass of wine for herself. “Damn thing’s gotta wear out eventually, right?” Henry grinned a little. “Could be sooner than you think,” he said, pointing at the knife on the counter and raising his eyebrows. “God, no, she’d go crazy.” Harriet laughed. They both did. The tape was a short one, and after about fifteen minutes it ended, and they heard the machine winding it back again, and soon their mother was calling them. “Harriet? Henry? Where did you two go?” came the voice from the front, timid at first and then louder. “Harriet? Will you bring me more wine, please? Dear?” They ignored her for a few minutes, but eventually Harriet sighed and carried the bottle out, and Henry followed her, frowning. “Here, Mom.” Harriet poured wine for her mother and then went back into the kitchen. Henry wanted to follow her, but he resisted the urge and sat on the couch instead, clasping and unclasping his hands. “So Mom. How are you?” His mother looked at him with narrow eyes. “How am I? Oh, well. You know, I’m just…fine, dear. Just… peachy.” Her tongue slid over her teeth and she drank another swig of her wine. “Did you know I’m going to be seventy-seven next week? Seventy-seven. I was just a girl when I had you kids, you know.” She sighed a rough, wavery sigh. “You ruined my figure. I’ve told you that, right?” “Yes, Mom. Many times.” Henry glanced toward the kitchen door,

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but there was no help there. “Kids… kids ruin your figure. Never the same, after.” She wiped her hand over her eyes, as though to remove tears, but there were no tears there. After a moment, she began looking around for the remote control. “Henry, are you sitting on it? Have I shown you this tape?” “Yes, I’ve seen the tape, Mom.” “Are you sure? Because it won’t take long and-” “No, Mom, I’ve seen it. For sure.” He rose and wiped his hands on the seat of his pants. “I’m gonna help Harriet in the kitchen for a while.” “But wait, Henry… Henry, please. Help me find the remote.” “It’s in your lap, Mom.” He rolled his eyes. “You don’t have to be so smug about it,” his mother snapped. “Just because I can’t see very well…I’m an old woman, Henry. Someday you’ll be old, and your kids will get mad at you when you can’t find things, and you’ll know what that feels like.” She took a large swallow of wine, and now there were tears in her eyes, but she didn’t try to wipe them. “Mom, I wasn’t-” “No, that’s fine, just go away and leave me alone. Go help your sister, I know she can’t find her way around the kitchen by herself.” Henry, redfaced and angry, went to the kitchen. “Jesus, Hare, I can’t take much more of her.” “She doesn’t mean half of what she says, Henry. She’s pretty drunk.” “Yeah, I know that,” Henry said, partially pacified. Then he rounded on her. “Why do you buy her the wine? Why, when you know how she is?” Harriet shrugged. “If I don’t, she’ll try to go buy it herself. She’ll kill someone.” The tape started up again in the living room. The volume went up, and then up some more, until the sound was audible all the way in the kitchen. “She wants us to go watch that with her.” Harriet shook her head. “I’ve had it for hours already today. You go watch it. Oh, come on, once, go watch the damn thing, she’ll drive us nuts if you don’t.” “Fine, dammit, once. But then I’m going home.” He stalked out of the kitchen and sat on the couch with his mother.

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“Henry! I’m so glad you came to sit with me,” she said, patting him on the knee and pointing at the television screen. “You won’t believe it’s me.” This last was almost a whisper. On the screen was a commercial for laundry detergent. In the commercial was a woman, young, mid-twenties. She held up white pants with a grass stain, and Henry knew the script well enough that he mouthed along with her: “How will I ever get this out?” “It’s a breeze for Klaxo!” “Klaxo made my old pants like new again! Thankso, Klaxo!” The commercial ended and another began, same detergent, different scene, same ending. And then another one. Five all told, five commercials starring their mother when she was young. Five commercials for a detergent that had not been popular and had faded out shortly after the commercials were made. The only real acting work she had ever gotten. “Can you believe that was me?” she asked now, rewinding the tape again. She was blushing and breathless. “I was so young! Did you see how young I was?” “Yeah, Mom. You were very pretty.” “Oh, you.” But she laughed and drank more wine. “I was, I was something.” The tape whirred in the machine and clicked; Henry stood up quickly and pointed at the plant on the side table. “Is that the one Nan gave you, Mom?” he asked, not caring, not really, just trying to change the subject. To distract her from the tape. “It’s doing really well there. It got a lot bigger.” She looked past him at the plant and her eyes blinked rapidly. “Yes, that’s it. I water it every few days. It grew up, didn’t it? Just like you did.” She smiled at Henry and held her hand out to him. “Like a weed.” Henry held her hand awkwardly, saying nothing. Why did he have nothing to say to her? When had she become such a stranger to him? He shifted from foot to foot, and when he heard Harriet call from the kitchen, he quickly slipped free. Harriet eyed him as he came in. “You looked like you were having a great time out there, but I figured I could use a little help with this.” She gestured toward a large pan of boiling water. “Can you just pour that into the sink there? I’m afraid I’ll slip and burn myself.”

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“Sure...no problem.” Henry took the pan and moved to the sink. “Hare?” “Hm?” Harriet said, distracted by the carrots she was dicing. “When did she get like this? Was she like this before, when we were kids? And I just didn’t notice?” She looked up, popped a bite of carrot into her mouth. “Oh… I don’t know. Feels like always, but it wasn’t, probably.” She chewed, thoughtfully, then grinned. “We used to have fun, sometimes. Remember that time that your girlfriend dumped you, and she drove us over there to throw eggs at her house?” “Jesus, I had forgotten about that.” Henry made a face, laughing and regretful at once. “That was nuts. And she knew, too. The girl, she knew.” What had her name been? He held at the sink, thinking. “Suze. She knew it was me. Us.” Harriet shrugged, moving around the kitchen as if it was her own. It felt like her own, almost. Almost, but not quite. In the living room, the tape started up once more, quietly this time. “There she goes again.” She snorted, a secret laugh. Henry, nodding, looked through her, out the back window. The flowers there nodded back at him; they knew the secret, too. “Thankso, Klaxo,” he whispered.

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In Search of Shame by Charles Rammelkamp I went looking for pudenda deep in the dictionary as if in some secret storage room down dark labyrinthine corridors at the Vatican, and I discovered shame in the parenthetical italicized etymology. The external genital organs of human beings, especially women, the dictionary reported, citing roots in pudendum, singular form of the plural noun, from the neuter plural of pudendus, gerundive of pudere, to be ashamed. Shame clusters in the thesaurus with disgrace, dishonor, humiliate, embarrass; modest gathers with humble, self-effacing, demure, reserved, shy. Vagina is likewise Latin, meaning sheath like the scabbard into which we plunge our swords. The secret language of mortification, like the quibbling self-consciousness of the boy who tells himself the priest who fondles him is his friend, because they laugh together, or the boy who reminds himself he only watched while his friends raped his retarded sister.

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Cracks Photograph by Isabel Winson-Sagan

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Afterlife 2.0 by Laurel DiGangi First, you die. Then, you log on. This isn’t what you were expecting—but hey, what were you expecting? Your user name and password still work, even up here. You wonder, do the Pilgrims know how to log on, the ancient Greeks and Romans, those in-between-the-Tigris-and-Euphrates-rivers people—what were they called, anyway? Mesopolonians? You could look that up right now. But first things first: You Google your obituary. Well, this is disheartening. Your obituary is very boilerplate, very fill-in-the-blanks and let’s get this over with. There’s nothing about your education, hobbies, and accomplishments—just a list of “survived bys” and “preceded bys.” Maybe you went to a prestigious school of animal husbandry or were employee of the month at the Chick fil-A or the Chicken Ranch brothel. Or you managed the team that sold the most accidental death and dismemberment policies in the state of Rhode Island or a state of unconsciousness. Maybe you were a prize-winning pygmy goat wrangler, pygmy goat wrestler, or pygmy goat impersonator. Or your kick-ass lavender-infused barbeque sauce won third prize at the county fair or county jail, and you have trophies and plaques up the ying-yang or wazoo to prove it. Or maybe you harvested a mind-blowing crop of hallucinogenic kiwis on FarmVille, or got 700,000 hits for that hilarious three minute film you posted on Youtube: “Shih tzu versus turtle.” But none of this is mentioned in your obituary. So you tell yourself that your “survived bys” were probably just too distraught with grief to bother with details. Yeah, that’s it. Distraught with grief. But then again, where are your “preceded bys”? Shouldn’t they have been up here with open arms, waiting for you? Where are your parents or grandparents or old-timey ancestors you’ve only seen in photos? Where is that best friend or lover from high school or college who died in a rickshaw crash or auditioning for Jackass or huffing crabgrass or all of the

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above? And where are Shitzy and Turdy and your lifetime supply of dog and/or cats and/or birds and/or reptiles? You expected at least they’d be here to greet you. All you have is a screen, that warm, glowing screen. You start clicking links—you Google “ying-yang” and “wazoo” without even knowing why and then, somehow, you meander your way to the dark side. Except here, it’s not the snuff film necrotainment starring the People of Wal-mart, fatal motorcycle injuries, mutant babies and twogirls, one-horse-in-a-cup. Because you stumble upon, tumble upon, bumble upon the websites that can only be accessed by the dead. You find a site devoted to everyone who’s ever had an erotic thought about you: Lustbook. A lightbulb icon signifies a dim attraction, a lighthouse means moderate, and a mushroom cloud symbolizes the highest lust-level attainable. Your heart flutters—if you still have one, hard to say—as you anticipate learning about everyone who ever glanced at your breasts or bulge or butt or boots when you shook them on the dance floor or waited on the third floor for the elevator that took too long to come, like your senior prom date who is noticeably missing from the list, which is alphabetical as well as chronological and geographical and includes a search window. You find the usual suspects—spouses, lovers, and rejected devotees—but the levels are all wrong, lightbulbs where you expect explosions and vice-fucking-versa. You discover certain suspicions about your brother- or sister-in-law were exceedingly accurate, as was that weird vibe you got from your dog groomer or pygmy goat groomer--or surprise, the pygmy goat himself. You are devastated by missed opportunities, those choice cheerleaders and witty Tweeters and late night beaters you coulda, woulda, shoulda. You’re flattered that your hot pants or ripped pants or too-tight pants or ready-to-fall-off-your-ass pants got 34 mushroom clouds at a bar one night in November ’93, but shocked by the lighthouse next to your sixth grade math teacher, Mr. Barkewicz, who said your understanding of square routes matched that of an eighth grader’s and dammit, you believed him. Your emotions run from goofy giggles to nausea-inducing disgust as you behold a list of undesirables, so you click on a link, any link, and without warning the lens is focused on you—OnlyYou—a website that’s like your profile page on Facebook, if your profile page were the length

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of War and Peace squared. Sexual attraction is only the tip of the OnlyYou iceberg. The site reveals every soul repulsed by your surreptitious pimple picking or underhanded undie adjustment. For example, March 18, 2002, 9:15:06 a.m: Rhinopharyngitis #22, or the 22nd common cold of your lifetime. Without warning, you sneeze. Snot sprays your monitor. One thick glistening strand momentarily suspends in midair, reaching from nose to screen, before you wipe your face with a long crumbled strand of toilet paper because you ran out of Kleenex. Eight of your coworkers including the one who looked like Ryan Gosling or Scarlett Johansson saw that. Definitely too much information. But you can’t stop knowing and what’s more, there’s more. Here’s the history of everything you’ve ever had lost or stolen: Every blankie or hanky, kitten or mitten, sock, rock, paper or scissors. Every vintage swizzle stick, retro one hitter, collectible lacy thong, or antique nipple clamp. Remember that leftover box of shrimp scampi you accidentally left on the subway, distracted by your date’s veiled promises of latex or leather? Now you know: It was snatched up by an unemployed theremin player who fed it to his Chihuahua, who unfortunately had an undiagnosed shrimp allergy and died of anaphylactic shock. And here’s a list of every friend you’ve lost, including film clips of turning points, complete with echoey voiceovers of their mental thought processes, their ah-ha moments of irreversible decisions, the reasons why they ignored your calls and text messages in a bottle and were always too busy for lunch. You can replay that moment over and over when Becky told you she might have Lou Gehrig’s disease and you said, “that isn’t contagious, is it?” You see yourself take two giant steps backwards; you hear Becky’s echoey voiceover say, “That stupid bitch or bastard only thinks of him- or herself.” You think, this isn’t fair, because when you told her about how much your pygmy goats shed all over the kitchen, she furtively drew her hand back from your homemade snickerdoodle. Like anybody could get sick from swallowing a goat hair or two. Besides, she was pretty damn sick already so what harm could it have done? You thought you’d find her up here, in fact. She was always kind of a petty C-word, but right now you could use the company. Sometimes you think you hear Shitzy or Princess or Buster softly

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whimpering in the cool, moist darkness, but you can’t bend your neck to see where they are, if they are. You sense others in your peripheral vision, but just a sense, not a for-sure. You want to say “hey, is anyone there?” but your lips are numb and stiff, like you used way too much Carmex, and you wonder if a waitress is coming with your coffee or beer or coke. Or maybe a Screaming Orgasm, remember those? Bailey’s and Kahlua, or was it Crème de Cacao? As you look that up you fondly recall your first creamy sip. “Oh God!” You recall your friends’ and enemies’ forced laughter at that lame joke—oh, God—and then you realize the big kahuna question, the one you should’ve asked days or weeks or years ago, has been waiting at your fingertips. You bring up the search window and type in “G-O-D .” You hit search. A blue ring of light shimmers and spins. Your screen momentarily goes blank, then fills with a long list . . . link after link after link. And above them all, challenging you with the ultimate eschatological question, is a modest line of type that reads: “Did you mean ‘dog’?”

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Signs and Portents by Jacqueline Doyle Black dog howling in the night. You will die. You will die. Your heart pumps blood. Expands, contracts, expands, contracts. Your eyelids flutter. You roll over in your sleep, hands clenched, teeth clamped shut. In the morning you are tired, as if you hadn't slept at all. Black coffee in the cracked red mug, he'll call you today. Black coffee in the yellow mug from Cost Plus, he won't. You close your eyes and reach into the cupboard. Which mug will it be? Late for work. Silver Mercedes cuts you off in traffic. Tinted windows, driver invisible. A surprise is coming your way. Stay alert. Purple tulips wrapped in cellophane. No card. Are they from him? On your desk by mistake? You may have a secret admirer. You may be all wrong. Put them in water. You ask the receptionist about the tulips. She doesn’t know anything. Lunch hour: orange cat crouched beneath a hedge, yowling, rubbing her belly on the ground. Must be in heat, which you’re sure you're not. Why do you miss him so much? What, exactly, do you miss? A girl in a green sweater walks by in the park. Another girl in a green sweater walks by. If a third girl in a green sweater walks by he loves you. The next girl isn't wearing a sweater. Maybe she left her green sweater at the office. Back at your desk after lunch shuffling papers. You compliment your boss on his hot pink tie, which you don't really like. Why do golfers wear kelly green and hot pink and lemon yellow? You ask your boss about the tulips. He doesn’t know anything. Check your cell. Still no phone call. He asked you once why you say things you don't mean. You wonder whether he'll call if you stop doing that. The purple tulips are already wilting, bowing to the ground in graceful arcs. You decide not to take them home. He's never given you flowers before. They probably aren’t from him. You try calling your cell from your work phone before you leave. Nothing's wrong with your

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cell phone. Yellow sky over the parking lot, tornado's coming. Or something else may spin you in place, pick you up and toss you down miles away. You decide you don't want him to call. Why court disaster? You can't remember what you liked about him to begin with, what made your heart flutter. You should throw away the red mug. It's cracked. The purple tulips are dying. The yellow sky's a bad sign. Unless you're all wrong.

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AM Memories by Terrence Brunner Blankets pulled northward Expose the morning fog Wafting off the ditches That slowly dissipates Like recollections of Last night’s misdeeds.

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If Bacchus had left the party early by Katherine DiBella Seluja If he had lost his fennel staff if he had been born of one mother instead of two if he had never warmed to the taste of grapes or fermentation was reversed if the acetyl group didn't bind so quickly would you have refused the screaming thirst abandoned your cavernous days and screeching ceiling nights if our DNA had been exchanged would I have been the one standing outside the Circle K trading tricks for a bottle of gin?

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Happy Hour by Gary Hardaway “Why are you so negative?” “Anything not the worst comes as a pleasant surprise and anything truly delightful becomes rapturous. It’s a form of risk management. Why are you so positive?” “Because it’s a beautiful world and I’m grateful to be alive in it.” “Your wife just died. How’s the world treating you?” “Why do you make up stuff to make people feel unhappy?” “It’s my job. Somebody has to do it. Otherwise you’d have no way to practice for when you have to deal with real grief. It’s like a dress rehearsal before life imitates art.” “You’d be a lot more popular if you’d tell happier stories.” “Tell that to Stephen King and all the serial killer authors. What happy little stories do you remember?” “The Little Engine that Could. I remember that.” “Of course you do.” They continued in this manner until they finished the pitcher and called it quits for the day. The one returned to his wife and child, the other to his mouse and keyboard.

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Thoreau’s Cabin Photograph by Lauren Lamont

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Lost Shoes by Nayla Degreff It was cold the morning we moved in together. I crawled into cheap sheets on the floor, wrapping cold legs together because we had no heat yet. We had one mug for everything. It was our measuring cup, our soup bowl, our wine glass. I woke to the train shaking our apartment, and your warm arms on my hips. We made a tent in our living room for Christmas. One year, you set it on fire because you were too eager with the decorations. When the neighbors threw lamps at walls, we watched movies in the closet with stolen wifi. For breakfast we ate cereal with our hands. You’d kiss me after I put my shoes on for work. We interlaced fingers on the subway, eating chocolate bars. Everyday you reminded me we were in love. Notes were stuck on the fridge, the microwave, the sheets. I’d find notes with your sloppy handwriting: “Sweet Dreams, Ocean Eyes”, “You’re my Moon”. I’d find them when you worked late making coffee for businessmen, or when you fell asleep before I was out of class. We ate frozen lasagna with candlelight when the power went out. Sadness was in your eyes the day we found a padlock on our door, only because you left me a note the day before and now the sentiment was lost. I remember crawling into a sleeping bag on the New York streets, wrapping cold legs together. You stood in the street all night, collecting coins for Christmas dinner, lukewarm ramen and a box of cold pop tarts. We made a tent from newspapers. You kissed me when I lost my shoes. After we lost everything.

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Dogs and Snow Goose Oil on Canvas by Kat French

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The True Story of Yin by Ron Riekki My neighbor in Shanghai knocked on my door one day and told me he wanted to light himself on fire. Did I have any suggestions. Yes, do not light yourself on fire, Yin. But he wants a suggestion of how to do it and specifically how to do it better. He says that he tried to light himself on fire, but his clothing wouldn’t catch. He tried lighting his skin directly on fire, but it hurt too much. Did I have something that would let him deal with the pain better. I hand him a bottle that says 53% vol BEIJING RED STAR COL. LTD. 500 ml (010) 65676597 and the rest is all in Chinese. I tell him this will help him deal with the pain. It is the vilest thing I have ever tasted. It helps me deal with the dangers of being a writer in China. And it’s flammable, I suddenly realize, wishing I had not said the words aloud. I can burn myself with this? Yes. And I drink it and I will not feel the pain? I bend over to see down the hallway, worried the neighbors will hear, even though we are speaking English. Even though capitalism in China has metastasized, there’s still the strong hovering presence of Communist Ingsoc paranoia. Yin turns and leaves, bottle in hand. The next day he returns. He drank the whole bottle and passed out. He could not light himself on fire when he was asleep, drunk. Would I light him on fire. No, I tell him, I will not light him on fire. Drink less, I tell him. He says he will. An hour later I hear a scream from his apartment. Then minutes later a knock on my door.

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I have a second-degree burn on my thigh, he says. Now he says he really wants to die. There are so many bridges in China, I think to myself, so many skyscraper windows that are open. They keep their skyscraper windows wide open here much more so than any city I have ever lived in. The population of the city is thirty million. Take a New York and put a New York on top of that New York and then put a Chicago on top of that New York and you’ll have the population of Shanghai. One Chinese barber said to me, We need more suicide. Yin wants to help reduce the population by one. He said he wants to do it to make a point. He won’t tell me the point. He says the second-degree burn feels like demons are chasing his leg over towering walls. He says his English is not very good, says he does not know how to tell me of the pain. He asks if there is anything I can do to help the pain. I tell him he had better be careful with infection, that he needs to clean the wound. He asks me how. I tell him to pour the bottle onto his burn. And it will clean it? he says. Yes. It is a magic bottle? he asks. You can use it to light yourself on fire, you can use it to get drunk, you can use it to clean your wounds, you can use it for everything. Not everything, I say. For me, it appears to be everything. He pours the bottle on his leg and bites his lip like he is eating it. I close the door. I hear the neighbor’s door next to mine open. I am an accomplice to this now. The next day is silence. It is a cross-out of a day, a simple X on a calendar, wasted. I watch badminton on TV. In China, there is endless badminton on TV. There is a reason why the first three letters of that word are what they are. It should be called horribleminton.

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The next day there is a tap at my door. My neighbor. He creeps into the apartment, shuts the door. I am alive, he says, because of your magic bottle. I stay here for the next few days. I have made a statement. What statement. The one you gave me. I gave you the statement? Yes, it was right there before me. I learned on the internet. The bottle can do everything. And much better than my, how do you say, incarceration? Yes, I say. No. Yes. No, not incarceration. He looks the word up on his phone. Not incarceration, my incineration, he says, much better than incarceration. A different sort of incarceration. Incarceration with flame. And now I have a much better statement, he says. What do you mean? He looks out the window. The city is like a marriage of dead bricks. It’s the end of winter in the middle of summer. It’s tired and long and old. I notice the bottle, for the first time, is not in his hand. Do you know what a Molotov cocktail is, he says. Yes, I say. I see the death in his eyes, in his pupils, deep in the vitreous humor of it all. It is a magic bottle, he says. A very, very magic bottle.

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Friday Night by Julie Brooks Barbour There were too many sounds offering themselves among the crowd, so you chose one that revved and sputtered, a motorbike to be taken to dirt roads. With a friend you took it onto the streets after sunset, after workers had come home and eaten supper and televisions flickered from front rooms. You made a ruckus of the night, shouting and laughing, your friend giving the small motor speed while you held on, arms wrapped around his torso, the first boy who’d ever let you get so close. Friday night, flying among houses and trees, charging through a church parking lot, the air rippled your skin. The motor gasped as it slowed, as you reached the end. You hopped off and offered your seat to another girl, adrenaline still pulsing in you, the scent of the dark, its campfire smoke and dew, in your hair.

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Levitation Ring by Bud Smith All afternoon there was thunder out the window the green light sang but of course, no rain came we laid on our side facing one another eyes like tropical birds ping-ponging thru a cave of shiny stone only discovering open air by virtue of random merciful ricochet but it's nice to have met you here the storm that took the neighborhood down and scattered it across electric streets is long gone, like your weighted doubt but in these new yellow clouds there's a first flash of lightning there's a face, a road, a dream I sell levitation rings for seven dollars she floats in her sleep for free I'm an optimist about Hell I should be shot, she should be held All the weathervanes do the twist just like they did last summer and our love spins in the crazy wind as a fitted sheet, and a white t-shirt are ripped off the laundry string draped between pre-war buildings and the thousand coats of paint fire escape

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We're watching out the window as the rain finally hits the white shirt falling, the fitted sheet soaring somehow, far beyond 173rd street

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Esthetician to the Elite by Helen Wickes One swish and you’ve got a blush that lasts all day. What I’m after—knife-blade cheekbones—or don’t bother. To create the eternal amusement Of the impeccably arched brow you must wax and cut and tweeze With a vengeance. How do I look—fabulous—change your shadow, Change your identity. It’s that simple. On you the blue-black mascara is obvious, suggesting The elegance of a tiny truth. Not looking fresh is inexcusable. I mean when she spilled her tote and out poured, yes, dental floss, Shower cap, paper clips, yes, and the blue sock, old green bra, Three candy wrappers, and yes, eight pens. Concealer is the essence, say no more. The canvas must be prepared, it must be lavished, it must Be framed, and my dear, it has to be seen, seen, seen. So I told her, lucky for all that hair. Your one abundance. When applying bronzing gel, always face The northern light because American mirrors contain silica, which greens the skin And dictates a whole slew of conclusions.

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Who the hell knows if we have a soul or not, But the packaging—that’s what God gave you to play with. She looked as if she’d been to a war or a fire or a dustbowl Or a quagmire and just didn’t take the time. Are you terrified yet. I’m dreaming the perfect face. You never want to look—here I come in my lipstick!—as if the mouth Had a life of its own. Which I suppose it does. I tell them to replenish for everyday degradations. A woman May exist in the world, but she can’t look Touched by it. Know what I mean? You must wash off every speck at bedtime or go straight to hell.

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Thoughts as to Mr. Glass’s Short Stature by Kyle Hemmings His tailors were flawed men with phantom hands. Or they were all thumbs. In measuring rooms, they stunted him with obscene jokes about shoe size and how men stay breast-fed for life. He was glassy-eyed but still too tender. His mother was pocket-sized. He could never hear her breathe. She admonished him from a distance that he carried too many things in his pockets. It was causing her claustrophobia and wearing him down. Tall women in heels made him feel inferior, so he only loved half of them. His vision became narrow.

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The Passport by Behzad Dayeny In my chest pocket under my shirt If you unzip the skin Open the flesh And unhook the ribs Tucked in the upper right shelf Of a chamber encircled by A moat of red fluid You will find a certificate of serenity Hidden within the pages of A passport with A permanent visa to peace Do not lose or misplace it Nor bury it with me

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Speech Therapy by J. Tarwood Years, years, in rooms with a speechifying specialist, I was the ventriloquist doll, sloshing through S, rappelling on R, not so a god could grab lips, but to be nondescript as Clark Kent in his blue suit. Fat tongue’s just a sloth whipped to run though: jimmied free by jet lag, wafted away by whiskey, it stumps to the fullest stop & I’m left alone with words meant for a muse like you.

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My Mother’s Third Call On a Day of Sleet and December Falling by Lyn Lifshin as if the whiteness was gauze wrapped over the mouth of someone dying and she had to slash it with a last word, or Monday was a blank sheet of paper only my words would cling to. My mother who lugged suitcases with me in the ’78 blizzard when subways broke in Brooklyn, says the wind crossing the street wouldn’t let her breathe. I’m standing with my hair dripping, turning the quilt darker blue, the water boiling downstairs, thinking how long it’s been since I’ve gone to visit her. Or haven’t told her I had to rush but just let the words between us wrap us like the navy afghan on the velvet couch with the stain where the gray cat peed and just drifted in the closeness, linked as we once were as if we always would be

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Leaving Seamus Heaney’s Funeral by George Korolog The sky cannot fall in Ireland. It threatens constantly, a wagging finger pointing at the fog rising, an upside down heather cake with a peat and bog center. The sky in Ireland is held up by stories and the rhythmic sound of sean-nos, the tapping of hot black shoes. I don’t understand it but I suspect that it might mean everything.

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The Eye by Ace Boggess disappearing from the eye is death in the opinion of the eye which does not understand the distinction soon but merely never a stranger stepping behind the house has fallen from a precipice the neighbor’s collie runs off following a straight line to infinity I must at no time leave my lover by herself she would make a ridiculous corpse ever hateful & forgetful is the eye a brutal despoiler of reminiscence although at least discrete in its genocide I cannot sleep tonight I cannot sleep for fear my eye in the long dark destroys the world

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At the Deep End by Len Kuntz At the pool, I watch the blind girl’s parents lower her into the shallow end. She’s maybe five, and skinny as a ladder. The girl kicks her feet, giggling. She wears a Hello Kitty one piece swimsuit and has floaties on her arms. “It would really suck being blind,” I say. Gordy shoots me with a spray from one of the squirt guns we shoplifted earlier in the day. When I tell him to knock it off, he squirts me in the eye, so I slug him on the shoulder. “Asshole.” “Sorry.” “You’re still an asshole.” Gordy and I have been friends our whole lives, but next Monday he and his mom are moving to Kansas. After another “dust up”, Gordy’s dad got put in jail for beating his mom pretty bad and the divorce is all finalized now. “Dust up” is Gordy’s term. He’s a professional at making misery seem harmless. Once when Gordy’s dad tried to drown his mom in the bathtub, Gordy said it was merely a “boating accident”. “Geez, Elaine,” the blind girl’s father says, “you’re going to break her damn arm. Just let her go.” Gordy says he’s not excited about moving away. He says life is a peach, even though he’s been in and out of trouble quite a bit this last year, starting with an episode where he broke several of our school’s windows with a crowbar. The blind girl looks ridiculous. She won’t stop grinning, nor does she stop slapping water against her face and chest. Her mother is flustered while her father reads a magazine on a lawn chair. We started shoplifting a few weeks ago. It was just candy at the start, but it’s progressed to games and toys, items that are trickier to conceal inside our clothing. I’m pretty sure the manager’s onto us, but Gordy could care less. “What’re they going to do, toss us in the clink?” he says.

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A plump woman with marbleized thighs comes over and talks to the blind girl’s mother, and from their easy manner I can see she’s some kind of friend. They gawk over the blind girl, then get lost in conversation. I watch the blind girl start to move through the water, going fast. Gordy sees it, too. “I hope she drowns,” he says. I jump up, dive in and reach the girl just before she’s about to reach the slope that leads to the deep end. When I break the surface, holding her by the waist, there’s a crowd poolside. The blind girl’s dad tells me to get my goddamn hands off his daughter, while the girl giggles, splashing us both, using her hands as paddles. When I get out of the water, Gordy says, “Smooth move, Ex-Lax.” Before bed that night, I lay in the bathtub under the water, holding my breath. I look up through the murky surface thinking: Life’s like that--unclear and fluid, always moving, wavering, slippery yet certain.

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A Horrible Thing by John Van Wagner I wrote a horrible thing. I printed it out and took it to bed. As I read it aloud to Kathy, I began to laugh. I could not help myself. I went on reading for a while. Please stop, she said, it’s horrible. I agreed. I stopped reading. I folded it and put the horrible thing on the nightstand. I didn’t know how this could be. It took all day to write, and I was devoted to it. While I was writing the horrible thing, I thought, how well I’m writing today. Early the next morning, I unfolded it and read again. I thought, who wrote this thing? but I knew that I wrote it. I do not exaggerate. You might say, I’m sure it’s not so bad, let’s hear it; but really, it is that bad. You’d think less of me if I read it to you. I thought I would know when I was writing something horrible. But I did not stop. I kept on writing the horrible thing until it was done. What will I do now, having written such a thing? Will the next thing be horrible? Will I write only horrible things? Kathy glanced at me today on the way to her desk. She showed no sign of remembering what I had read. I would like to write something now, but I do not trust myself. My instincts have failed me, or I did not listen to them. Perhaps I do not have instincts, only a conscious mind, that willfully writes horrible things.

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Book Stack Photograph by Ro Calhoun

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Santa Fe Literary Review 2014


Reviews by Susan Aylward

Glimmer Train, Spring 2013, Issue 86 - “Every story published in Glimmer Train is unsolicited. And every year, we pay out over $50,000 to fiction writers.” A third of that is dedicated to new writers. This issue has an impressive illustrated cover of an attic full of treasures, with a repeating border of “stories” in the elusive cursive. It contains twelve stories, two interviews, a profile of Cameroon writer and political activist Enoh Meyomesse. Each story begins with a childhood picture of the author accompanied by a wry description, and signatures sandwiched between each story’s title and author’s name. The book ends with a picture and a paragraph from each author in lieu of bios. The last page has a list of what’s “Coming Soon” with a few tempting bits from upcoming pieces. “The Unmoored” by Jennie Lin begins with a photo of her smiling, captioned, “Me, five years old, plopped down in a rose garden in Connecticut. We had just moved back from Taiwan for good. I’m told I still make this face.” The story opens, “Toward the end of winter, Gabrielle left her job as a lawyer in Manhattan and moved to San Francisco without plans.” What unfolds is the confluence of a legal firm in panic when an earthquake and tsunami hit Japan. During this transition, she has an encounter with a seemingly homeless man, and knows he has “placed her in a world she previously had not known existed, a world in which the unmoored acknowledged one another with secret understanding as they drifted about, occasionally knocking against one another at random.” Lin gives us a touching story about reality and resilience. Go to www.glimmertrain.org for subscriptions, submission guidelines and free monthly newsletters.

P&P 20, Poems & Plays, 2013, from Middle Tennessee State University. October-November is the reading period for submissions, as well as manuscripts of 20-24 pages for the Tennessee Chapbook Prize. Contact www.gaylordbrewer.com for details.

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The one act play “Starf*cker” by Adam Pasen, is set at nighttime in LA in the courtyard of a Hollywood mansion. We meet a beautiful girl who has done her homework, and is ecstatic at making it home with a star, and the screenwriter-wannabe delivery boy neighbor who loves her. Through discussing the plot of star’s latest movie, the boy reveals his feelings for her. The final lines are poignant, and we are left to guess how their story ends. Go to www.mtsu.edu/english/poemsandplays to order copies.

Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry, from The University of Tulsa, also contains artwork and photos. This issue’s theme is “Lasting Matters - Writers 57 and Over”. In the Editor’s Note, Francine Ringold talks about the new culture that is the baby boomers and up. She shares, “…these authors seem to be saying that lasting does matter, that here is life, with all its whims and complications, as I have experienced it but also as I have shaped it. Here are dreams and stones and other hard realities. Share them with me.” I can find no better representation than this poem by one of the dedicatees of this issue, Ann Zoller. Surrender I never knew what to expect when life left the body that final shrug of the shoulders, the letting go, the exit of the soul when the spirit flies out of the window to be with god, or angels or some eternal dust. Perhaps a bird, a majestic white bird caught in the high draft of a delicate breeze, captured her spirit in his soul and soared into the sun over the rims of hills just beyond the horizon

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where love gathers the hungry and heads home. Go to www.utulsa.edu/nimrod for subscriptions, submissions, newsletters, and a Facebook link.

Mid-American Review, Volume XXXIII, Number 2, Bowling Green State University, contains fiction, poetry, nonfiction, a translation chapbook, The Sherwood Anderson Fiction Award, and the James Wright Poetry Award. Full of striking imagery, “Patriotics” by Jennifer Luebbers paints a picture of her brother. She recalls when he played with army men, alluding to the fate of soldiers: “Some with parachutes caught the branches. Some tangled in hedgerows. Most were lost, swept by the wind into other yards. Though some he found later, half-buried in the sandbox, their rifles rising slender as grass blades, as blades of grass, as green.” Go to www.bgsu.edu/midamericanreview for details.

Writers Ask, Issue No. 59, Spring 2013 by Glimmer Train Press, Inc. “Published quarterly by the editors of Glimmer Train Stories to support literary writers in the advancement of their craft, with the advice and perspectives of accomplished authors and creative writing teachers.” Each newsletter explores a variety of topics. This 16-page issue contains interviews and musings on: Character; Description and Details; Endings; and Publishing. It wraps up with “Last Page Focus: Just the Facts, Ma’am: Expository Dialogue and Student Fiction”. In it, Gabriel Brownstein shares, “…the true function of exposition - not to tell the reader what is really going on, but draw the reader into dramatic time, to bring them into the story’s present moment.” Go to www.glimmertrain.org and click on Writers Ask to subscribe or buy previous issues.

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The Rag, August 2013, bring us two pages of poetry from 14 poets on one folded sheet and is available in locations in Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Taos. To submit, email 3-5 poems (30 lines max each) to: theragabq@gmail.com.

Daily Haiku by Haiku Andy, haikuandy.wordpress.com The postcard we received says, “Every day, I write a haiku and publish it via social media. Every day, I physically inscribe that same haiku on a single postcard and mail it to someone in the world. Today, that someone is you.� Here is the haiku he gifted us. Sign up online to receive your own! first day of june spring masquerades as summer and so do we

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Book Review: 3 A.M. Poems by Susan Aylward In this contemplative and moving collection by Taos poet Phyllis Hotch, we travel through her experiences of remembrance and daily reality, alternately questioning and accepting the transition she’s going through. Mortality permeates her opening poem, “3 A.M.”: The hour. 3 A.M. Nothing but a feeling, not of being dead because we, I, cannot know what dead feels like Part 1 reveals her observations and feelings on her husband’s illness, change, love, fear, the inevitability of decline, and the gifted moments of connection in-between. In “Nightwatch”: Some nights clouds drift across the moon. This night sky is saturated with stars and I’m a whirling part of the cosmos. His arm stretches out to me and I whisper wish you were here. In Part 2 she shares portraits of her husband’s fellow nursing home patients, reflecting the toll aging and illness takes on their diminishing lives. The poem “Sy” reminds me of my Uncle Ricky, who was also a dapper young baritone: Who does an old man sing to when he wants to sing? The baritone that used to boom now croaks if he could he would sing with the radio, smile remembering when he changed his shirt, combed his hair,

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waited near the door. Part 3 evokes deeper feelings about slowing down and saying goodbye to her marriage and life as it used be. In “The Places I Have Wanted to See”, she asks, Why do I want to travel? Last year I would sit on the edge of my bed getting dressed, thinking I would die and not be ready. Is this getting ready? Is this running away? About The Author: “Writing 3 A.M. has been her lifeline through the tumultuous waters of old age, helping her to find the beauty, comedy, and patience that accompany illness and loss.”

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Bios Jennifer Anderson is a native New Mexican who recently moved to Santa Fe and has enjoyed experiencing the “City Different” firsthand. She loves writing and traveling more than anything else and wishes she could only do those two things for the rest of her life.

Natalia Andrievskikh is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature at Binghamton University. She grew up in a little provincial town in Russia reading tons of books and writing poems and children’s stories. After teaching English for two years at a local university, she won a Fulbright grant to study in the US. Natalia has taught literature courses at Binghamton University, published poems and essays, and served as Managing Editor of the literary journal The Broome Review. She was Guest Editor of the Spring 2013 issue of Yellow Medicine Review. She likes fairy tales, art house films, dancing, hazelnut chocolate, fashion shows, and black tea with lemon served in a tall glass with a traditional brass glass-holder (they serve tea like this on Russian trains, so it has the tingling flavor of travel!)

Susan Aylward has lived in Santa Fe for two decades and is currently enrolled in the Creative Writing program at SFCC. She enjoys writing poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Her other interests include photography, genealogy, and Native American studies. Follow Susan's blog, Via Santa Fe: Prose, Poetry, and Pictures at http://susanaylward.wordpress.com.

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Julie Brooks Barbour is the author of Small Chimes (forthcoming from Aldrich Press in 2014) and a chapbook, Come To Me and Drink (Finishing Line Press, 2012). Her poems have appeared in Waccamaw, diode, Kestrel, storySouth, Prime Number Magazine, The Rumpus, Rose Red Review, Escape Into Life, Blue Lyra Review, Sundog Lit, and on Verse Daily, and anthologized in Bigger Than They Appear: Anthology of Very Short Poems and The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works. She is co-editor of the journal Border Crossing and an Associate Poetry Editor at Connotation Press: An Online Artifact. She lives in Michigan where she teaches composition and creative writing at Lake Superior State University. Janée J. Baugher is the author of two collections of poetry, The Body’s Physics (Tebot Bach, 2013) and Coördinates of Yes (Ahadada Books, 2010). Her nonfiction, fiction, and poetry have been published in Boulevard, Nano Fiction, Verse Daily, and Portland Review, among other places, and she has an interview forthcoming in The Writer’s Chronicle. Currently, she teaches literature at University of Phoenix. Ace Boggess is the author of two books of poetry: The Prisoners (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2014) and The Beautiful Girl Whose Wish Was Not Fulfilled (Highwire Press, 2003). His writing has appeared in Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, Atlanta Review, RATTLE, River Styx, Southern Humanities Review and many other journals. He currently resides in Charleston, West Virginia.

Janelle Bohannon is a student at SFCC. She enjoys cotton candy and gummy worms and is amazed by black holes. Daniel Bohnhorst’s poems have appeared in Rattle, Modern Haiku, and the Santa Fe Reporter. He has performed Spanish-language poetry at Teatro Paraguas in three shows: Machado y Lorca, Poesía de México, and Dos Patrias: La Poesía de Cuba. He lives in Santa Fe, where he works in the violin shop.

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Doug Bootes is an artist, writer and father of two amazing daughters. Calling Santa Fe, NM home for fifteen years, he is studying creative writing at Santa Fe Community College which has resulted in several poems and short stories being published in Pasatiempo, The Reporter, Accolades and Connotation Press. He is the 2013-14 recipient of the Richard Bradford Memorial Creative Writing scholarship and is enjoying being the art editor for the 2014 Santa Fe Literary Review.

Sophia Bootes is a thirteen year old student who likes to paint, draw and design clothing. "Wild Horse" is a Sumi ink drawing on rice paper that she completed in 2011.

Dorothy Brooks Laughing in Navajo, a group of Dorothy’s excerpts from a book in progress she is writing about teaching on the Navajo Reservation is on-line during November 2013 as the first place winner of the Hippocampus Magazine’s annual Remember in November Contest for Creative Non-Fiction, including two of her b&w photos as illustrations. Another group of excerpts from the book, Fickle Friend the Wind: Trying to Blend in on the Rez, as well as her b&w photos, was published in Weber-the Contemporary West, Native American issue, Spring 2013. In 2012 her poetry chapbook, Swamp Baby, (Finishing Line Press) was published. Recent poems have appeared or will be in Persimmon Tree, Washington Square Review, Passager, Eleventh Muse, Border Crossing, Temenos, Blast Furnace, Driftwood, Rockhurst Review, Garfield Lake Review, Enizagam, Tall Grass Press’ Deep Waters, 200 New Mexico (Centennial) Poems, Santa Fe Review and Wild Leaf Press (on-line), among others. Terrence Brunner lives in Albuquerque, NM. He is the State Director for Rural Development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. His writing is inspired by his travels, the people he meets and his work with rural New Mexico communities.

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Joan Burt was raised in Montana where she earned a bachelor's degree in fine art at Montana State, an institution whose motto is: "Education for efficiency." She has done her best to live up to these high expectations during the course of her lifetime. For a variety of reasons, she has recently moved into expressing her imperfection through the written word instead of visual art. She likes dogs and sweetgrass. Ro Calhoun works in multiple media, including intaglio etching, assemblage as well as a variety of printmaking techniques and book arts. Presently she is exploring integrating text and image in her body of work through a variety of mediums. She is represented by Vivo Contemporary on Canyon Road in Santa Fe. She has exhibited throughout the United States. Her artwork is in the permanent collections of The New Mexico History Museum and The Kinsey Institute Museum as well as private collections through out the country. Calhoun is a faculty member at SFCC in Santa Fe, N.M. where she teaches Printmaking and Book Arts. Previously, she served as an adjunct professor at the State University of New York teaching Printmaking, Foundations and Color Theory.

Lauren Camp has authored two books, This Business of Wisdom, and most recently, The Dailiness. She has been a juror for the 2014 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, and guest editor for special sections in World Literature Today (on international jazz poetry) and MalpaĂ­s Review (on the poetry of Iraq). Her writing is forthcoming in Brilliant Corners, The Portland Review, Sweet, About Place, and Feminist Studies. Lauren hosts "Audio Saucepan" on Santa Fe Public Radio KSFR 101.1FM, and is an acclaimed visual artist. www.laurencamp.com

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Susana H. Case is a Professor and Program Coordinator at the New York Institute of Technology. Her photos have appeared in Blue Hour Magazine, pacificREVIEW, and San Pedro River Review, among others. Author of several chapbooks, her Slapering Hol Press chapbook, The Scottish Café, was published in a dual-language version, Kawiarnia Szkocka, by Poland’s Opole University Press. She authored the books Salem In Séance (WordTech Editions), Elvis Presley’s Hips & Mick Jagger’s Lips (Anaphora Literary Press), and Earth and Below (Anaphora Literary Press). 4 Rms w Vu is forthcoming from Mayapple Press in 2014. Please visit her online at: http://iris.nyit.edu/~shcase/. Deborah Casillas, originally from California, is a long-time Santa Fe resident . She has a BA in English from UC Berkeley and an MA in Spanish from UNAM in Mexico City. Her poems have appeared in various literary journals, including Prairie Schooner, Silk Road Review, North American Review and New Ohio Review.

Frank H. Coons is a veterinarian (CSU ’74) and poet living Grand Junction, Colorado. His work has appeared in The Eleventh Muse, El Malpais Review, The Santa Fe Literary Review and elsewhere. He was a finalist for the Mark Fischer Poetry Prize in 2011. His first chapbook, Finding Cassiopeia, was published by Lithic Press in 2013. He lives with his wife, Teresa and two dogs.

Jack Cooper's first formal collection of poetry, Across My Silence, was published by World Audience, Inc., New York, NY, 2007. He has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize. His poem “All of the Above” was chosen as a finalist in North American Review's 2011-12 James Hearst Poetry Prize. His poetry and flash fiction have also appeared in Santa Fe Literary Review, South Dakota Review, Bryant Literary Review, Muse & Stone, Argestes, The Evansville Review, Tundra, Runes, The MacGuffin and many other publications. He can be contacted at www.jcooperpoetry.com.

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Brian Cronwall teaches English at Kaua’i Community College in Hawai’i. His poems have been published in numerous journals and anthologies including recent publications in Pinyon, Clare Literary Journal, Ekphrasis, Mudfish, Soundings Review, Kaimana, St. Sebastian Review, Bloodroot Literary Magazine, The Healing Art of Writing Volume 1, and others. Nicelle Davis is a California poet who walks the desert with her son J.J. in search of owl pellets and rattlesnake skins. In the Circus of You is her third book. Her first book, Circe, is available from Lowbrow Press. Becoming Judas is available from Red Hen Press. The Walled Wife, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press in 2016. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Beloit Poetry Journal, The New York Quarterly, PANK, SLAB Magazine, and others. She is Managing Editor of The Los Angeles Review. She has taught poetry at Youth for Positive Change, an organization that promotes success for youth in secondary schools, and with Volunteers of America in their Homeless Youth Center. She currently teaches at Antelope Valley College. Behzad Dayeny is Director of Food Services at Santa Fe Community College, born in Iran, has been living in Santa Fe since 1984. Nayla Degreff is a high school student taking classes at the Santa Fe Community College. She is from Santa Fe, New Mexico. She spends most of her time looking through the lens of a camera, though has recently been enjoying putting pen to paper. She finds pleasure in forming descriptions of dreary scenes, and expressing herself through beautiful combinations of words.

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Laurel DiGangi lives in Southern California with her husband Tom and two Boston terriers, Bean and Buttercup. Her creative nonfiction appeared regularly in The Chicago Reader and her fiction has been published in Denver Quarterly, Asylum, Atlanta Quarterly, Cottonwood, Treasure House, and The Enigmatist, among others. A former entertainment journalist, she has met dozens of actors and once sold Johnny Depp’s cigarette butt on Ebay for $200. She is currently an adjunct professor at Woodbury University in Burbank, CA, and is working on a childhood memoir, Things We Couldn’t Live Without.

Jacqueline Doyle lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she teaches at California State University, East Bay. She has creative nonfiction and fiction published and forthcoming in Ninth Letter online, Confrontation, Southern Humanities Review, and Southern Indiana Review. Her flash prose has appeared in numerous online journals, including Vestal Review, Sweet, Monkeybicycle, The Rumpus, Prime Number, and Café Irreal. Visit her here: www.facebook.com/authorjacquelinedoyle. Catherine Ferguson is a poet and painter, living in Galisteo, New Mexico. Inspired by landscape, animals, and the people of her village, she creates watercolors, oils, retablos, and poems that express her love of nature. She has written numerous chapbooks and won the New Mexico book award for poetry for The Sound a Raven Makes, a collection with two other poets, and for You who Make the Sky Bend, written by Lisa Sandlin with retablo illustrations by Catherine. Ann Filemyr is the author of six books of poetry: Love Enough, The Healer's Diary, On the Nature of Tides, Growing Paradise, The Vowels: a Congregation of Preachers and Thinking. Four of the books are collaborations with visual artists. She was awarded an Honorable Mention in the 2012 Robinson Jeffers Tour House Poetry Award. Her new book, Love Enough, explores love in its myriad possibilities, including the poems in

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this issue of Santa Fe Literary Journal. The title poem explores issues of race, gender, sexuality, and intimacy. Copies can be ordered through Red Mountain Press or ask for it at your local bookstore! She reads, writes, hikes, teaches and serves as the Academic Dean for the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. Her art practice embodies a commitment to creativity.

Brian Fishbine has a Ph.D. in plasma physics and is retired from Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he studied carbon nanotubes and wrote for Los Alamos Research Quarterly, Los Alamos Science, 1663, Nuclear Weapons Journal, and other Laboratory publications. Before his stint at the Laboratory, he developed a high-speed scanning electron microscope and received two patents on digital fingerprint acquisition. He was also a National Research Council Senior Research Associate. In the very dim past, he reviewed films for The New Mexico Independent and wrote for The Juggler, a humor magazine at UNM. He is currently organizing his collection of nearly 90,000 digital photos and is also completing a memoir of his encounter with a shock wave while dabbling in short fiction and poetry.

Maureen Tolman Flannery’s most recent volume of poems is Tunnel into Morning. Her other books include Destiny Whispers to the Beloved, Ancestors in the Landscape, and A Fine Line. Maureen is a Wyoming native living in Chicago where her four children were raised. She is a wood-carver, toy-maker, and home funeral guide. Her poems have appeared in fifty anthologies and over a hundred literary reviews, including Birmingham Poetry Review, Xavier Review, Calyx, Pedestal, Atlanta Review, North American Review, and Poetry East.

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Candice Floran was born and raised in a world of textiles and textures under a kaleidoscope of colors. She is a direct product of the family business of interior design and decorating. She was taught the family craft as a young girl then grew her initial exposure of color and design into a love of writing and art. She prides herself on being a life-long learner, with her most recent academic endeavor being at Santa Fe Community College. She is currently pursuing a degree in Creative Writing.

Kathy French trained in the traditional school of Fine Arts at Penn State University, then moved on to New York City working as a studio artist for many years. Enthralled with the street life in the East and West village and the music scene, figurative oil on canvas painting was her form of expression. Moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1990 opened up color and landscape compositions with its vast spaces pushing urging her into sculptural expressions, mixed media work, drawing and finally writing. She is in the middle of writing a book of fiction and also writes poetry.

Amanda Fresquez graduated from Santa Fe Community College in 2013 with an Associates degree in General Studies, with her Concentration in Creative Writing. Her first time sharing her work with the public she won runner up with her fiction short story Healing From True Love in Accolades, 2011. She continues writing with the love and support of her son Jeremiah Fresquez and she hopes to make a good name for herself in the writing community. Lydia Gonzales is a creative person and student at Santa Fe Community College. In her photography, she works in black and white thirty five millimeter format film. She finds it is the most honest tool in connecting with the subject: an intimate portrait or a desert scape. A freckle, a wrinkle, or one's own childlike joy is what excites her as a photographer; the truths of life and its stages and cycles. She spreads her time between stressing out over math class and gaping at New Mexico's blue blossom of a sky.

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William Greenway’s seventh full-length collection, Everywhere at Once, winner of the 2009 Ohioana Poetry Book of the Year Award, is from the University of Akron Press Poetry Series, which also published his seventh collection, Ascending Order (2003), winner of the 2004 Ohioana Poetry Book of the Year Award. His eight collection, The Accidental Garden, is forthcoming from Word Press, and his Selected Poems is forthcoming from FutureCycle Press. He’s Professor of English at Youngstown State University. John Grey is an Australian born poet, US resident since late 70s. Recently published in The Lyric, Vallum and the science fiction anthology, The Kennedy Curse with work upcoming in Bryant Literary Magazine, Southern California Review and Natural Bridge.

Sharon Guerrero is a native of the Southwest, having lived in California, Colorado and New Mexico. She weaves myth and mystery into her stories and screenplays writing from the perspective of “magical realism”. Her screenplay “Novela Norteña” is an episode from a web series that is modeled after the popular Telenovelas of Mexico and Latin America.

Kenneth P. Gurney lives in Albuquerque, NM, with his beloved Dianne. He emcees the Adobe Walls open mic at Page One Books and is the founding editor of the Adobe Walls anthology of NM poets. His latest collection of poems is Curvature of a Fluid Spine. To learn more visit kpgurney.me.

Andrei Guruianu is a Romanian-born writer and the author of several collections of poetry and prose. He currently lives in New York City where he teaches in the Expository Writing Program at New York University. In the past he has worked as a newspaper reporter, literary magazine and small press editor and publisher, and from 2009 to 2011 he served as Broome County, NY’s first poet laureate. More of his work can be found at www.andreiguruianu.com.

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Libby Hall is a resilient 73 year old massage therapist whom life has gifted with enough challenges to have become enthusiastic about continuing to grow and change. After decades of competitive talking, story telling, and community service she decided to develop her writing voice. The Santa Fe Community College Creative Writing Program and Miriam Sagan have given her the opportunity to do just that. Next...I.A.I.A. and the world. She has been published in Adobe Walls, Moonbathing, The Sun Literary Magazine, Santa Fe Literary Review, and several SFCC chapbooks.

Gary Hardaway has work published in Gumball Poetry, Manifold, Silkworms Ink, Connotation Press, Divine Dirt Quarterly, Cu.ren.cy, The Oletangy Review, Ochre and Umber, The Arlington Review, Eye Socket Journal and Blue Fifth Review. He currently lives in Texas and has earned his living as an urban planner and architect. Tom Hazuka has published three novels, The Road to the Island, In the City of the Disappeared, and Last Chance for First, as well as a book of nonfiction, A Method to March Madness: An Insider’s Look at the Final Four (co-written with C.J. Jones). He has edited or co-edited six anthologies of short stories: Flash Fiction; Flash Fiction Funny; Sudden Flash Youth; You Have Time for This; A Celestial Omnibus: Short Fiction on Faith; and Best American Flash Fiction of the 21st Century (Shanghai, China). He teaches fiction writing at Central Connecticut State University. Links to his writing and original songs can be found at tomhazuka.com.

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Grey Held holds a BS from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MFA from Temple University. He is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Creative Writing and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His first book, Two-Star General, was published by Brick Road Poetry Press. His second book, Spilled Milk, was published by Word Press. Through a prison outreach program he has led poetry writing workshops for prisoners in the Northeastern Correctional Center in Concord, MA. He has been a lecturer in art and design at Ohio State University, computer programmer, international marketing manager, research director, and is currently director of client services at a research firm in Cambridge, MA. He and his wife live in Newton, Massachusetts, where they have raised two sons.

Kyle Hemmings lives and works in New Jersey. He has been published in Elimae, Smokelong Quarterly, This Zine Will Change Your Life, Blaze Vox, Matchbook, and elsewhere. He loves 50s Sci-Fi movies, manga comics, and pre-punk garage bands of the 60s.

Jannett Highfill is a poet living in Peoria Illinois. She has two poetry chapbooks, Light Blessings Drifting Together (Finishing Line Press) and Constitution of Silence (Green Fuse Poetic Arts), and has had poems in The Iowa Review, Tar River Poetry, The Greensboro Review, and elsewhere. Yes, economics is her day job. She teaches at Bradley University. Janice Bruce Hightower, a fourth generation Washingtonian, departed the frigid nation's capital for the warmth of New Mexico in 1977. Inspired by the pioneering civil rights work of her father’s sister, Carnis Hightower Salisbury, Janice devoted her professional career to advancing the goals of equality. Now officially "retired" she seeks to emulate the creative endeavors of Harlem Renaissance author and activist Leila Amos Pendleton, her maternal great aunt. Janice and her partner of 30 years share the home they built in rural northern New Mexico with a couple of hundred pound dogs and a ferocious 4 pound kitty.

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Barbara Hill. This poem came to me while working in my vegetable garden. To connect my older brother and the tomato hornworm, I know that I must have stepped outside of my usual editorial mind. On another day, I might not have allowed this idea to take form. This year I grew enormous birdhouse gourds in my Stonington, CT garden. My second home is in Santa Fe, NM where I still have much to learn about growing things. Gill Hoffs lives in Warrington, England, with her family, Coraline cat, and never quite enough Nutella. Her fiction and nonfiction have won several international prizes and are included in Wild: a collection (Pure Slush Books) as well as widely available online and in print – please see gillhoffs.wordpress.com for details. The Sinking of RMS Tayleur: The Lost Story of the Victorian Titanic, her nonfiction account of a tragic shipwreck near Dublin in 1854, is out now from Pen & Sword. Find her on twitter as @GillHoffs or email her at gillhoffs@hotmail.co.uk. Michelle Holland lives, writes, and runs the arroyos and barrancas behind her house in Chimayó, New Mexico. Her collections include “Event Horizon,” in The Sound a Raven Makes, Tres Chicas Press; and Chaos Theory, Sin Fronteras Press.

Teresa Hommel grew up in Missouri and now lives in New York City. She is an emerging writer with two stories published in Rosebud and SLAB. She is working on a memoir. Anne Hosansky is the author of Widow's Walk, Turning Toward Tomorrow and Ten Women of Valor. Her short stories and articles have been published in the US, Canada and England, as well as an international anthology. A former actress, she currently leads memoir writing workshops and a professional writers’ group in her native New York City.

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Robyn Hunt once ran printing presses, owned a small bookstore. Today she lives with her husband in her native New Mexico. Her debut collection of poems, The Shape of Caught Water, is available through Red Mountain Press (www.redmountainpress.us). Her work is also visible on her blog, As Mourning Doves Persist, (mourningdovespersist.blogspot.com).

Joseph Hutchison is the author of 15 collections of poems, including Marked Men, Thread of the Real, The Earth-Boat, and Bed of Coals (winner of the 1994 Colorado Poetry Award). He makes his living as a commercial writer and as an adjunct professor of graduate level writing and literature at the University of Denver’s University College. He and his wife, yoga instructor Melody Madonna, live in the mountains southwest of Denver. Phillis Ideal is writing a group of true stories based on chance encounters, overheard conversation fragments, and street interactions. She is a painter, currently exhibiting in galleries and museums both in the USA and Europe. She has taught painting at UC Berkeley, San Francisco State, and Sarah Lawrence. She splits her time between NYC and Santa Fe. She is a native of New Mexico and born in Roswell, New Mexico. Shari Hack Jones lives in Boulder, Colorado and earns her living writing software. In her free time she enjoys riding horses and practicing Natural Horsemanship. Her writing has appeared in the Santa Fe Literary Review, Fast Forward, Holistic Horse, Savvy Times, Labrador Quarterly, and The Sun Magazine (“Readers Write”). Susan Johnson received her MFA and PhD from the University of Massachusetts Amherst where she currently teaches writing. Poems of hers have recently appeared in The Kerf, Hawaii Pacific Review, Freshwater, Pinyon, Oyez Review and others. She lives in South Hadley MA.

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Charlie Kalogeros-Chattan is a native New Englander who followed her heart to Northern New Mexico where she writes and works and lives with her husband and her three dogs. Her poems have appeared in the Harwood Anthology, Santa Fe Literary Review, Conceptions Southwest, the Carson Curmudgeon, the Harwood’s How To: multiple perspectives on creating a garden, a life, relationships and community.

George Korolog is a Bay Area poet whose flash fiction and nonfiction have been widely published in over forty print and online journals such as Word Riot, Forge, Punchnels Magazine, Naugatuck River Review, Blue Fifth Review, Poets and Artists Magazine, The Journal of Modern Poetry, Red River Review, Connotation Press, The Chaffey Review, Thin Air, Grey Sparrow Journal and many others. He has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has also received a Best of the Net nomination. His book of Poetry, Gods Vengeful Concubines has been short listed for the Able Muse Poetry Prize. His first book of poetry, Collapsing Outside the Box, was published by Aldrich Press in November 2012 and is available on Amazon. His second book of poems, Raw String, was published in October, 2013 by Finishing Line Press.

Len Kuntz is a writer from Washington State and an editor of the online literary magazine, Metazen. His work appears widely in print and online. He is the author of The Dark Sunshine (Connotation Press, 2014) and I’m Not Supposed To Be Here And Neither Are You (Aqueous Books, 2014). You can find him and his writings at lenkuntz.blogspot.com.

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Lauren Lamont is a wanderer, photographer, and multimedia artist. She currently lives in western Massachusetts, where she spent most of last year living in a rustic cabin in the woods. A graduate from Naropa University in Boulder, CO, and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, ME, she misses the taste of green chile, the smell of pinon, and the pink light on the Sangre de Cristos at sunset.

Pamela Ramos Langley relishes narratives that bash the ideal against the real (or vice versa). She spends her days tap-tapping on her laptop in a distant exurb between Los Angeles and San Diego, combining memory and imagination with such vigor that her “e” key recently flew off. She’s had fiction, flash fiction and creative non-fiction works published in M Review Magazine, River Poets Journal, Drunk Monkeys, The Writing Disorder and Hippocampus. She is the fiction editor at Drunk Monkeys, hosts a blog over at langleywrite.com, and had a flash piece nominated for Best of the Net 2013. Wayne Lee

is a Canadian/American who lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His poems have appeared in Tupelo Press, The New Guard, Sliver of Stone, Slipstream, and other publications. His awards include the Mark Fischer Poetry Prize and the SICA Poems for Peace Award, and he has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and three Best of the Net Awards. His third collection of poems, The Underside of Light, was published by Aldrich Press in 2013. wayneleepoet.com.

Lorraine E. Leslie was born in New York and has been living in Santa Fe, New Mexico since 1998. She’s been making art for over 30 years, and considers herself a self-taught painter even though she majored in art at school, earning a B.F. A. from Southampton College. She has had artwork published in We’Moon, THE magazine, Las Vegas Weekly, as well and various books and magazines. While living in Kent, Connecticut, she owned her own art gallery, mural painting business, and was once a window dresser for Bloomingdale’s in New York City. She likes to dabble in writing and has written a vampire novella that’s never seen the light of day.

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Donald Levering, a former NEA Fellow, was born in Kansas City and received his MFA from Bowling Green (Ohio) State University. He has worked a teacher on the Navajo reservation, groundskeeper, and human services administrator. Featured in the Academy of American Poets Forum, the Ad Astra Poetry Project, and the Duende Series, he won the Quest for Peace Prize in rhetoric. Among his recent honors are Finalist for the Janet B. McCabe Prize and the Jane Kenyon Award. His 12th book of poetry, The Water Leveling With Us, will be published in 2014 by Red Mountain Press. A father of two children, he is married to the artist Jane Shoenfeld and lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he is a species preservation and human rights activist. Visit www.donaldlevering. Lyn Lifshin’s Another Woman Who Looks Like Me was published by Black Sparrow at David Godine October, 2006. Also out in 2006, her prize winning book about the famous, short lived beautiful race horse, Ruffian: The Licorice Daughter: My Year With Ruffian from Texas Review Press. Lifshin’s other books include Before it’s Light, published winter, 1999-2000 by Black Sparrow press, following their publication of Cold Comfort in 1997 and 92 Rapple from Coatism.: Lost in the Fog and Barbaro: Beyond Brokenness and Light at the End, the Jesus Poems, Katrina, Ballet Madonnas, Light at the End, Tsunami as History, Lost horse, Drifting, Mirrors. Persephone was published by Red Hen and Texas Review published Barbaro: Beyond Brokenness. Most recent books: Ballroom, All the Poets (Mostly) Who Have Touched me, Living and Dead. All True, Especially the Lies. Recently out, Knife Edge & Absinthe: The Tango Poems. Just out October 1, 2013, NYQ Books published A Girl Goes into The Woods. Also just out: For the Roses, poems after Joni Mitchell. Just published Hitchcock Hotel. Also forthcoming: Secretariat: The Red Freak, the Miracle; Malala, The Tangled Alphabet: Istanbul Poems and Luminous women: Eneduanna, Scheherazade and Nefertiti and an E book of Marilyn Monroe from Rubber Boots Press and a dvd of the film Lyn Lifshin: Not Made of Glass. Also forthcoming: 2002-2013 update to Gale Research autobiography series, Lips, Blues, Blue lace: On the Outside. www.lynlifshin.com.

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Nina Listro is a freshman at the University of Rochester in Rochester, NY where she studies psychology, anthropology, and journalism. In her free time she enjoys writing poetry, running, and playing ultimate frisbee.

María Cristina López, is a retired Spanish professor from the Santa Fe Community College. She grew up on the border, Juárez, Chihuahua, México and ever since she has been crossing borders and building bridges. When she is not interpreting in the courts and writing, María Cristina is active as a co-founder and board member of “Somos un Pueblo Unido,” a state wide immigrants’ rights organization. High on her list of priorities is her family, her two sons Pablo and Marcos and Carlitos, her grandson.

Peter Ludwin is the recipient of a Literary Fellowship from Artist Trust, as well as a W.D. Snodgrass Fellowship from the San Miguel Poetry Week. His first book, A Guest in All Your Houses, is focused on the Southwest. His most recent book, Rumors of Fallible Gods, was twice a finalist for the Gival Press Poetry Award, and has been published by Presa Press. A multiple Pushcart Prize nominee, his work has appeared in journals such as The Bitter Oleander, The Comstock Review, Crab Orchard Review, Nimrod, North American Review and Prairie Schooner. He lives in Kent, Washington. Beryl Markowitz is a printmaker who has lived in Santa Fe since 1972. When she first moved there from the New York City area, she did printmaking in her home studio and invited other artists to use her press. Over the years, her interests grew to include monotype, watercolor painting, photography and digital arts. She has a MA degree in Studio Arts from New York University’s Study Abroad program in Venice, Italy. Recently, her work was included in an exhibit, Remarkable, held by the New Mexico Committee of The National Museum of Women in the Arts at the Red Dot Gallery in Santa Fe.

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Gerard J. Martínez y Valencia is an opsimath, poet, writer, and photographer known for his musical compositions, performances and playwriting. Martínez holds a BFA in Music along with degrees in theatre, business and sustainable technologies. Martinez works for Santa Fe Community College and resides with his wife and their two children on an urban farm in the geographic center of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Stephen Massimilla is a poet, critic, professor, and painter. Lately, he has also been pursuing photography and food writing—while dreaming of the big skies and chile peppers of New Mexico. His most recent poetry books include The Plague Doctor in His Hull-Shaped Hat, selected in the Stephen F. Austin University Press Prize contest, and Forty Floors from Yesterday, winner of the Bordighera Poetry Prize. His work has appeared in hundreds of publications. Massimilla teaches at Columbia University and the New School in New York City.

Cass McMain was born in Albuquerque and raised in the far North Valley, among the cottonwoods. Her first love was always houseplants, and she still maintains a house full of them. Her background as a greenhouse manager led to a long career in garden center management, but when the bottom fell out of the local industry, she took a new path, returning to another love: a love of words and writing. Her first novel, Sunflower, was published in 2013 by Holland House Books. Her second novel is due to be released Summer 2014.

Miranda Merklein is a card-carrying member of The Adjunct Faculty. Her work has appeared in Oxford American Magazine, Permafrost and Word Riot. She lives in Santa Fe.

Elvina Rose Meyer studied English Literature at St. Edward's University in Austin. She will be attending Cardozo Law in New York City in the fall and hopes to become a public defender. She is currently at work on her first full collection of poems.

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Jen Michalski lives in Baltimore, Maryland. Her novel The Tide King was published by Black Lawrence Press (2013; winner of the Big Moose Prize). She is the author of two collections of fiction, Close Encounters (So New, 2007) and From Here (Aqueous Books, 2014) and a collection of novellas, Could You Be With Her Now (Dzanc Books, 2013). She also edited the anthology City Sages: Baltimore, which Baltimore Magazine called "Best of Baltimore" in 2010. She is the founding editor of the literary quarterly jmww and hosts the monthly reading series The 510 Readings in Baltimore.

Devon Miller-Duggan has published poems in Rattle, Shenandoah, Margie, Christianity and Literature, The Indiana Review, Harpur Palate, The Hollins Critic. She’s won an Academy of American Poets Prize, 2 grants and a fellowship from the Delaware Division of the Arts, an editor’s prize in Margie, honorable mention in Rattle. She teaches for the Department of English at the University of Delaware. Her first book, Pinning the Bird to the Wall appeared from Tres Chicas Books in November 2008. Her chapbook of ungoopy poems about angels, Neither Prayer, Nor Bird appeared from Finishing Line Press in September 2013. Claire Moore is inspired by the delicacies found in nature; from the intricate scale patterns adorning the bodies of fish, to the slow colorful changes of the seasons. She also finds great joy in having her work inspire a narrative within her viewers through characters she creates. She likes to see herself as a visual storyteller. Her greatest influences come from the watercolor and ink work of illustrator Arthur Rackham. Claire Moore recently attended the University of New Mexico Fine Arts Department and was involved in the printmaking program where she worked in mediums such as woodblock and linoleum carvings, Intaglio, and Silk Screening.

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Judy K Mosher, Ph.D. has called New Mexico home for almost 30 years. Besides writing poetry, she hikes Santa Fe’s arroyos with her rescue golden retriever Jessie. She has poems published in Adobe Walls, A Good Place to Stumble Upon, Noyo River Review, Santa Fe Literary Review, and 200newmexicopoems.wordpress.com. Elizabeth O’Brien is a retired professor of American Literature from Drew University, Madison, N. J. who now lives in Santa Fe. She has taught at UNM, College of Santa Fe and IAIA and lectures at Santa Fe’s Renesan and Albuquerque Oasis. She has been studying poetry and memoir with Miriam Sagan, Joan Logghe and Jon Davis for the past four years and is a member of High Desert Poets and Ghostwriters. Cynthia Dewi Oka is a poet, essayist and author of the poetry collection nomad of salt and hard water (Dinah Press, 2012). Her poems have appeared in Kweli, 580 Split, Borderline Poetry, Briarpatch, Zócalo Poets, Ozone Park, Boxcar and jmww. She is a contributor to Dismantle: An Anthology of Writing from the VONA/Voices Writers’ Workshops (thread makes blanket, forthcoming) and Stay Solid! A Radical Handbook for Youth (AK Press, 2013), and is currently serving as Poetry Editor of Generations Literary Journal. Hailing from Bali, Indonesia and Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories, she is currently based in New Jersey. Visit her at www.cynthiadewioka.com.

Susan RZ Paradise has worked for over thirty years as a book jacket designer for several publishing companies. She is currently completing a zany memoir, Boyfriends, Husbands and Other Mistakes, about a girl who just can’t say no to love… no matter the price. Susan RZ Paradise lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Boston, MA.

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Frank Pearce is a retired Marine Corps officer who resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He has many stories about life and experiences in the Marines, not all combat, but many family experiences, some very humorous. He has been encouraged by many friends who hear his stories to write a book and express the humor, family life, and certainly some of his unique combat experiences covering three combat tours in Viet Nam. He held several positions in the Marines which required developing combat plans and orders, and which had to be expressed in a more technical and direct aspect. He is now taking Creative Writing at SFCC, and the unique true story described in this book is one he wrote as a class assignment—to eventually be included in his book. Margaret Peters has an M.A. in English from Claremont Graduate School in Claremont, California. Originally from Texas, she has lived in Santa Fe and taught English at SFCC for 16 years. Currently, Margaret is dean of the School of Liberal Arts and the School of Arts, Design, and Media Arts. In her spare time, she enjoys bookbinding and playing with her dogs, Sweetie Pie and Biscuit.

Charles Rammelkamp lives in Baltimore. His latest book, Fusen Bakudan (“Balloon Bombs” in Japanese), was published in 2012 by Time Being Books. It’s a collection of monologues involving missionaries in a leper colony in Vietnam during the war. Charles edits an online literary journal called The Potomac -http://thepotomacjournal.com/.

Ron Riekki's books include U.P. (Great Michigan Read series nominated and Sewanee Writers Series nominated) and The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works (selected by the Library of Michigan as a 2014 Michigan Notable Book).

Eric Roe’s work has appeared in the Best American Fantasy anthology, Redivider, Barrelhouse, Fugue, Midway Journal, and The Newer York. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

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Claire Sandrin lives, cooks, dances, and writes in Albuquerque, New Mexico, when not on the road with the traveling movie circus. A hot cup of tea and an awesome pen are two of her favorite things.

Deborah Schreifels retired to Santa Fe ten years ago after a twenty seven year career in Public Relations for healthcare facilities, arts organizations and social service agencies. Her positions included being Director of Community Relations at SUNY Stony Brook University Medical Center, Director of Community Relations at the Long Island State Veterans Home, and NYC Director for Very Special Arts, Inc., an affiliate of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She earned a BA degree in Theatre Arts from Penn State University and an MS in Healthcare Administration from Stony Brook University. She is currently writing a memoir about growing up in Manhattan as the 13th child in an IrishCatholic family of 14 kids. Her father, a central figure in the story, was a well-respected criminal lawyer who did mostly pro-bono work for the poor and raised his offspring on a wing and a prayer while holding steadfast to his belief that “money is the root of all evil.� This memoir is a story about faith and love and triumph over the human condition. Katherine DiBella Seluja is a nurse poet who is passionate about translating health and illness experiences into poetry and prose. She invites her patients' stories to inform her writing and strives to reveal raw and powerful aspects of disease. Katherine is currently working on a collection of poems dedicated to her schizophrenic brother. A grouping of these poems was recently anthologized in Tzim tzum, Mercury HeartLink Press. Katherine can be found at katherineseluja.com

Dan Sicoli of Niagara Falls, New York, writes about hope and the fallout that comes from offering it up. He's authored two poetry chapbooks from Pudding House Publications, Pagan Supper and the allegories. Currently, he can be found in local dives, saloons and barrelhouses banging an old Gibson with an area rock'n'roll band.

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Jeanne Simonoff was born in Hollywood, California. She grew up with the love of words, music and films. She is the author of Saving Myself: A Los Angeles Childhood, and a chapbook of poetry, 13. She's working on a book of poems and a second memoir, Just Now: The Alzheimers Journal, living with her family's Alzheimers and Dementia. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Emma Sindelar likes to write and draw. She is a student at the Santa Fe Community College, lives near Santa Fe with her three pet ferrets. She is in the process of finishing a novel. Bud Smith grew up in New Jersey, and currently lives in Washington Heights, New York City with a metric ton of vinyl records that he bought at Englishtown flea market for a dollar. He is the author of the short story collection Or Something Like That (2012), and the novel Tollbooth, Piscataway House 2013); he hosts the interview program The Unknown Show; edits at Jmww and Red Fez; works heavy construction in power plants and refineries. Currently, he's probably watching My Cousin Vinny.

Michael G. Smith is a research chemist whose poetry and essays have been published in many literary journals and anthologies. The Dark is Different in Reverse, a bonbon chapbook, was published by Bitterzoet Press (New Haven, CT) in 2013. No Small Things, a book of poetry, will be published in the summer of 2014 (Tres Chicas Press, Santa Fe, NM). Tim Suermondt is the author of two full-length collections: Trying to Help the Elephant Man Dance (The Backwaters Press, 2007 ) and Just Beautiful from New York Quarterly Books, 2010. He has published poems in Poetry, The Georgia Review, Blackbird, Able Muse, Prairie Schooner, PANK, Bellevue Literary Review and Stand Magazine (U.K.) and has poems forthcoming in Mudlark, Taos Journal of Poetry and Art and Plume Poetry Journal among others. After many years in Queens and Brooklyn, he has moved to Cambridge with his wife, the poet Pui Ying Wong.

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J. Tarwood has published in magazines ranging from American Poetry Review to Visions. He has edited two anthologies, Music From My Pen and East Coast Lives. He has published two books, The Cats In Zanzibar and Grand Detour. A third, And For The Mouth A Flower, is due to be published in 2014. Arienne Tenorio is a SFCC student. Though her passion is photography, she loves using writing as another form of expression. Arienne is very proud of her Native American heritage and uses her experiences of growing up on the San Felipe Pueblo reservation as inspiration.

Betsy Fogelman Tighe has published widely in small literary magazines, including TriQuarterly 74, for which she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and Verseweavers, Number 14 for which she was awarded third prize by the Oregon State Poetry Association in the New Poets category. She moved to Oregon in 2008 and is quite pleased she did. She works as a teacher, and relishes being the mother of two captivating teens. Francine Marie Tolf has published two poetry collections, Rain, Lilies, Luck (North Star Press of St. Cloud, 2010) and Prodigal (Pinyon Publishing, 2012), as well as a memoir and a number of chapbooks including Eighteen Poems to God and a Poem to Satan by Redbird Chapbooks of Minnesota (2012). She has received grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board; Barbara Deming / Money for Women; and the Elizabeth George Foundation. Francine lives and works in Minneapolis.

Dennis Trudell of Madison, Wis., had a poem in the last issue of Santa Fe Literary Journal. Other recent and forthcoming poems are in Trajectory, Hubbub, Cold Mountain Review, Common Ground Review, Big Muddy, etc. His book Fragment in Us: Recent & Selected Poems was published by University of Wisconsin Press. His poems have been reprinted in over twenty anthologies.

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Teisha Twomey is currently working on her MFA in Poetry at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA and is an Associate Editor at Wilderness House Press. Her poem “Hannah’s Ambry” was recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Teisha’s work has appeared in Ibbetson Street , Fried Chicken and Coffee, The Santa Fe Literary Review, Metazen, Poetica and was selected for publication in the Wasn't That Special? Anthology. Max Underwood was born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the beautiful and enchanting southwestern landscapes have inspired him to pursue photography as a hobby and a career. Underwood has had the opportunity to study with photographers Janet Russek, David Scheinbaum, Alan Ross, and Valerie Santagto, which has greatly shaped Underwood's knowledge and experience,both behind the lens and in the darkroom. Underwood graduated from the University of New Mexico’s College of Fine Arts with a BFA in photography.

Jared Valdez was born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He spent five years on the road as a touring musician and song writer, while obtaining an Associates degree in Creative Writing from the Santa Fe Community College. Jared is currently a student at the University of New Mexico. Neda Vesselinova is a high school senior at the MASTERS Program, a high school at the Santa Fe Community College. She has been writing since seventh grade and is getting a Certificate in Creative Writing from the college. Neda enjoys playing the violin, studying languages, and traveling.

Timothy Vigil was born in Colorado and moved to Santa Fe at the age of 3. He is now seventeen years old, a student at the Santa Fe Community College, and has a passion for Media Arts as well as writing short stories, flash fiction, and poetry.

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Natalie Campbell Walden began her artistic career in New York City as a singer and an actor performing in the theater, nightclubs, radio, film and television. In 1992 she moved with her family to Santa Fe. She has produced and recorded Blue of the Flame – The Way of Mary a collection of Ave Marias and songs to Divine Mother with her husband Russell Walden. Natalie has just been awarded her AF at SFCC adding visual arts and creative writing to her artistic endeavors. John Van Wagner lives in Santa Fe and has lived in Chicago and Brooklyn. He has studied filmmaking, worked at cabinetmaking and other varieties of making involving words soluble and insoluble. Recent work has appeared in Eunoia Review and Connotation Press.

Meneese Wall amalgamates various vocations – business partner, momentum trader, graphic designer, word-ralpher, wife, domestic slave, healthcare guru, and mother to a catalytic daughter. More of her creative dexterity can be found on her website – www.mountainmetropolis.com

Lillo Way’s poems have appeared/will appear in Poet Lore, the Madison Review, the Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Avocet, Common Ground Review, Cordite Review (Australia), the Bear Deluxe, Third Wednesday, Still Point Arts Quarterly, Permafrost, Northern New England Review, Yemassee, Quiddity, Freshwater and SLAB, among others.

Charles Harper Webb's latest book, What Things Are Made Of, was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in 2013. Recipient of grants from the Whiting and Guggenheim foundations, Webb teaches in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at California State University, Long Beach.

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Ryan Werner works at a preschool in the Midwest. He is the author of the short short story collection Shake Away These Constant Days and the story cycle chapbook Murmuration. He runs the micro-press Passenger Side Books, is on Twitter @YeahWerner, and has a website named www.RyanWernerWritesStuff.com.

Cynthia West is known for painting, photography, digital imaging, and book arts. Her works are in collections world-wide. She is the author five collections of poetry: For Beauty Way, 1990, and 1000 Stone Buddhas, 1993, published by Inked Wingbeat, Santa Fe. Rainbringer, 2004, The New Sun, 2007 and In the Center of the Field, 2010, published by Sunstone Press, Santa Fe. She is currently gathering poems for the next volume. Visit her web-site: www.westvision.us.

Helen Wickes lives in Oakland, California. Her first book of poems, In Search of Landscape, was published by Sixteen Rivers Press in 2007. Her poem in this issue is from an unpublished manuscript called Dowser's Apprentice. Darryl Williams has been observing his fellow humans for many years, but he has only recently begun to write about his observations. His work has appeared in Adobe Walls and Narrative Matters.

Isabel Winson-Sagan attends Santa Fe Community College for woodworking and fine arts. She does wood carving and other types of wood and metal fabrication on commission. Her work can be found in local neighborhoods and in various literary magazines. She is also currently building a Tumbleweed Tiny House on wheels, and her progress can be followed at http://bababuilders.wix.com/babayagahouse.

Francine Witte is a poet and fiction writer.

Her poetry chapbooks are First Rain and Only, Not Only. Her flash fiction chapbooks are The Wind Twirls Everything and Cold June. She lives in Manhattan and is an English teacher.

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Fred Yannantuono Fired from Hallmark for writing meaningful greeting-card verse, has currently published 331 poems in 85 journals in 30 states. Has twice been nominated for a Pushcart prize and once for a Wurlitzer Prize. His book, A Boilermaker for the Lady, which can be browsed by the intrepid on Amazon, has been banned in France, Latvia, and the Orkney Isles. Was recently Featured Poet in Light Quarterly. To Idi Amin I’m a Idiot—and Other Palindromes is due out in 2014, followed by a second book of poems, I Hate to Second-Guess Myself, or Do I? Julie Yowell, a native New Mexican, is unruffled by rough roads, Diamondbacks and living off-grid. In this issue of The Santa Fe Literary Review, she offers a true story of her camaraderie—with ghosts. Julie is a multi- media artist who lives in the high desert forest of the Oritiz Mountains.

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Front Cover Photo: Claire Moore Back Cover Photo: Lydia Gonzales Book Design: David Faulkner Logo Design: Jane Dill Design Printing: Vision Media Rio Rancho, New Mexico Copyright Š 2014 by Santa Fe Community College

This book is printed on elemental chlorine-free and acid-free stock to meet and exceed archival standards. Contains 30% post-consumer waste fiber and 50% total recycled fiber.


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Santa Fe Literary Review 2014  
Santa Fe Literary Review 2014  

Poems, stories and artwork by Santa Feans and nationally published authors and artists.